Land of the Free? Think again.

On April 1, 2016, I was one of thousands, who watched Tesla Motors unveil their latest car model, the Model 3.  I have been fascinated with the idea of an all-electric automobile for more than a decade. Finally, a car company was going to produce an all-electric vehicle that I could afford.

General Motors had discontinued it’s all-electric EV-1 in 2002.  These vehicles were never sold to owners, they were only leased.  When GM discontinued the program, they repossessed the cars from the people leasing them and crushed nearly all of them for scrap.  Many of the people, who had these cars, were heart-broken when they were taken away.

In 2005, the price of gasoline started to skyrocket.  I looked for an alternative to the gasoline-powered automobile, but there were few options.  All-electric cars were not available.  The closest thing I could get was a gas-electric hybrid.  In 2006, I bought a Toyota Prius.  As much as I hated using gasoline for transportation, the Prius was a step in the right direction.  I got 40-50 MPG, which was way better than anything I had owned previously.

I have been watching Tesla for several years.  Their Model S is an impressive automobile.  In addition to being a sharp-looking car, the miles you can drive before needing a recharge is amazing.  Unfortunately, at about $100,000 for a nicely equipped Model S, it was never within reach of my finances.

When the Model 3 was introduced as having a base price of $35,000, I knew I’d found my next new car.  However, what shocked me was the revelation that there are states where Tesla cannot legally sell automobiles to customers.  Excuse me?  How can we live in “the land of the free” when a car manufacturer, making cars in the United States, is barred from selling cars directly to consumers in 22 states?  Thankfully, I live in a state (California), where manufacturers are allowed to sell directly to consumers.  If I was living in neighboring Nevada or Arizona, I would not be allowed to buy a car from Tesla, that is unless the car was sold through a dealership.

I have learned that there is a seriously strong automobile dealership lobby in this country.  Car dealers are quite happy collecting their share of what you pay for a new car.  It makes them a lot of money, so it is logical that they don’t want car manufacturers bypassing them and selling direct to the public.  It’s very similar to the concept that oil and natural gas producers are having fits about a car company producing cars that don’t use their product.

So, the next time you hear someone say that we live in the land of the free, consider that we may be better than many countries.  However, we are not truly free when wealthy special-interest groups have the power to dictate to us that we must buy a new car through a middle-man and not directly from the manufacturer.  Three cheers for Tesla!  Go get ’em!

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