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USA; Electric car maker gets win at Capitol, hopes to open in Edina

ST. PAUL — After a win at Minnesota’s Capitol, an electric car manufacturer is closer to the license it needs to open retail stores over the objection of traditional auto dealers.

California-based Tesla Motors has gotten word that state officials would begin processing the company’s application for a car dealer license. The Star Tribune reported Wednesday ( ) that Tesla hopes to open a store this summer in Edina and a second at the Mall of America next year in which the manufacturer would sell cars directly to customers.

The set-up has drawn the ire of the Minnesota Automobile Dealers Association, which fears the sales model will allow Tesla and other manufacturers to undercut rivals by running dealerships without the overhead of having vehicle supplies on the lot.

“We think everybody should play by the same rules,” said Scott Lambert, the association’s executive vice president. “Tesla is trying to sell cars on the cheap, and it’s just not fair because they don’t have the cost of running a dealership.”

The auto dealers group tried unsuccessfully to update a 1970s-era law to block Tesla and is now threatening to sue. Lawmakers turned back the anti-Tesla effort in a Senate committee last week and a House plan that was slated for a hearing on Wednesday was pulled from consideration.

The original law was designed to prevent Ford or General Motors from selling the same car models in competition with their own dealers. Tesla has never had Minnesota dealers and would be selling cars that are completely different from those sold by existing dealers.


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