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AftAfter New Jersey ban, Tesla Motors fights to keep Ohio saleser New Jersey ban, Tesla Motors fights to keep Ohio sales

Tesla representative John Van Cleave, right, shows customers Sarah and Robert Reynolds, left, and Vince Giardina, a new Tesla all electric car, Monday, March 17, 2014, at a Tesla showroom inside the Kenwood Towne Centre in Cincinnati. Ohio auto dealers are sparring at the Statehouse with the California-based Tesla, which is selling it’s next generation electric cars from three Ohio storefronts. Lawmakers in Ohio and other states are trying to block Tesla direct sales on grounds they undercut traditional auto dealerships. (AP Photo/Al Behrman) ( Al Behrman )
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COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio auto dealers are sparring with Palo Alto automaker Tesla, which is selling its electric cars from two Ohio storefronts.

Ohio is among states proposing to block Tesla from setting up additional direct-sales galleries on grounds they undercut traditional auto dealerships. Last Tuesday, New Jersey officials approved a regulation effectively prohibiting automakers from going straight to customers. Tesla vice president Diarmuid O’Connell visited Ohio legislative leaders that same day to try to discourage them from passing similar restrictions.

“The bill would shut down our ability to grow in the Ohio market and, frankly, it’s just a first step to them shutting down our existing businesses,” O’Connell said. “This is the pattern we see in other states.”

The administration of Republican Gov. John Kasich, through the Bureau of Motor Vehicles, issued a license to Tesla authorizing the company to open its own stores in Cincinnati and Columbus.

Joe Cannon, a lobbyist for the Ohio Automobile Dealers Association, told lawmakers in testimony last week that the decision means Ohio’s longstanding licensing rules “have been thrown upside down.”
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