Buying a Fisker in Connecticut

Fisker Deliveries Commence

Fisker is the latest automaker using the direct sales model to begin deliveries. And like with Tesla, Rivian, and Lucid, they aren’t allowed to open stores in CT. They also seem to be in the middle of working through their processes.

On its website, Fisker lists only 1 store location in the USA, Los Angeles, with planned future planned locations in New York, Arizona, Maryland, and Tennessee. There are a limited number of Tesla stores in New York but there are still franchise law related restrictions there, so it is not a given that this could happen quickly.

No word on whether they are contemplating the tribal land route.

We have been in touch with Fisker. They are making arrangements to deliver vehicles from nearby states, but we don’t have a lot of specifics at this time. They offer the option to pick up your Fisker Ocean at your nearest Fisker Center Plus or Delivery Center. A Google Maps search did not reveal any nearby locations. Alternatively, concierge delivery is an option for an extra cost.

Fisker states that they will work closely with their customers to ensure a smooth experience in delivering and registering a vehicle. They have a Vehicle Admin team to help with these details. Temporary plates can be obtained if needed. New owners pay CT sales tax.

There have been no announcements to this point regarding a CT service center. They are offering mobile service.

The Fiskers are attractive looking vehicles and the pricing of the Ocean begins at $37,499.

For readers of this blog who are taking deliveries of a Fisker vehicle in the near term, we ask that you reach out to us to let us know what the process was and how well it worked.

Fiskers are assembled in Austria and as such are not eligible for the Inflation Reduction Act EV incentive if purchased (a lease would qualify, though it is up to the seller to pass it along).

The photo at the top is from the Fisker press kit and, yes, that is a solar roof (SolarSky is the branded term), that can obtain an estimated 1500 miles of charge over the course of a year.

This is a developing story and we hope to have more details and delivery experience reports over the next several months.


Where The EVs Are – July 2023

EVs by City and County

Notes – There are differences every time we receive a file. In this case, the data do not include electric motorcycles and the handful of fuel-cell vehicles, which is different than in the past. Also, importantly for this post, there are 518 vehicles for which there is no geo record. That is why one of the columns in the bar charts is labeled “(Blank).”


In the map at the top of the post, each bubble is a city, the size of the bubble reflects the number of registered EVs in that city, and the shades of color within the bubble depict the proportion of battery electric vehicles (light blue) and plug-in hybrid vehicles (dark blue).


Fairfield County remains the EV epicenter with 40% of registered EVs. Hartford and New Haven County follow with Hartford slightly higher.

EVs by County July 2023


The top cities remain the same, except that Windsor Locks increased a lot to rank number 8. There is not enough room to display all of the cities or all of the data labels. If anyone would like to know the number for a particular city, please reach out to the EV Club.

EV Count by City

EV Count Trend by City

This is the trend for each city in 6-month intervals from January 2022 through July 2023.

Trend of EVs by City Jan '22 - July '23

Per Capita

There is a change in the per capita rankings with Westport slipping to second, behind the smaller city of Windsor Locks, after being the leader since we started tracking these stats 7 years ago. Smaller cities dominate this ranking.

EVs per Capita by City July 2023

These are the per capita chart filtered for BEVs and PHEVs:

BEVs Per Capita by City in CT July 2023

PHEVs per capita by city in CT July 2023

EV Count by Make within City

We are again able to track this. It is a dense chart that is complicated to see in a screen shot. At least it is colorful! Again, space is a limitation, both in the number of cities that can be displayed as well as the number of makes in the legend. The large red part of the bar is obviously Tesla. If anyone is looking for specific information, let us know. The chart itself displays some of the makes, but above the chart is all of the makes/colors.

Make Legend 1


Make Legend 2


Make Legend 3



EV Count by Make Within City July '23

Below are two variations on the above chart – BEV by make within city and PHEV by make within city. It tracks more or less socio-economically with the BEV-heavy cities being the more affluent towns.

BEV Count by Make Within City July 2023

PHEV Count by Make Within City July 2023


Northeast Electric Vehicle Symposium (NEEVS)

The Symposium is Sold Out – People Can Still Come for the Car Show

Get charged up at NEEVS, the ultimate gathering for EV enthusiasts, policy wonks, and all who seek cutting edge guidance on decarbonization.

Please join us at the first annual Northeast Electric Vehicle Symposium (NEEVS) at Hotel Marcel in New Haven on September 9, 2023. EV enthusiasts, electrification and decarbonization advocates, sustainability volunteers and professionals, municipal employees, real estate owners and developers and policy wonks are invited to join us.

Bruce Becker is the lead architect and owner/developer of Hotel Marcel in New Haven, the country’s first zero emissions and Passive House hotel, and Chairman of the EV Club of CT. Bruce will welcome guests as they enjoy a light buffet lunch, and briefly share his approach to hotel e-mobility at Hotel Marcel. Guests have access to Tesla Superchargers, Level 2 chargers under a solar canopy and a custom electric shuttle van.

Hotel Marcel New Haven with solar canopies in foreground

You will learn firsthand from expert guest speakers about:

  1. Hotel Marcel’s guest experience in e-mobility,
  2. The state of public EV charging and opportunities for improving it,
  3. The latest updates in state and federal EV/EVSE incentives and V2G,
  4. Best practices for transitioning vehicles and homes to all-electric,
  5. How to move municipalities to 100% clean, renewable energy,
  6. The societal and environmental benefits that proposed regulations for light, medium and heavy-duty vehicles under Advanced Clean Cars II (ACC II) provide for Connecticut.
  7. Zoning for EV readiness

Date: September 9, 2023

Hours: 12:00-4:30

Buffet Lunch: 12:00
Presentations: 12:00-3:00
Networking and Car Show 3:00-4:30

Host: Hotel Marcel, 500 Sargent Drive, New Haven, CT 06511

Organizer: EV Club of CT

Partner: Tesla Owners Club of CT

Thank You to Our Generous Sponsors: Hotel Marcel, Live Green CT, EV Connect, Chargepoint, Maxwell Vehicles, and the Greater New Haven Clean Cities Coalition.

Live Green Connecticut


EV Connect is a sponsor of NEEVS.


Greater New Haven Clean Cities Logo

Maxwell vehicles logo

Hotel Marcel New Haven at dusk

Speaker Schedule:

12:00-12:15: Welcome address from Bruce Becker, lead architect and owner/developer of Hotel Marcel New Haven and Chairman of the EV Club of CT. Guests will be treated to an overview of the e-mobility customer experience at Hotel Marcel, the country’s first zero emissions and Passive House hotel.

12:15-12:45: Out of Spec Dave will share his experiences charging his EVs at various public charging stations, sometimes across long distances, to map the current state of publicly-available EVSE and how the customer experience can be improved to accelerate EV adoption.

12:45-1:15 Mark Scully, President, People’s Action for Clean Energy (PACE) will present their model for decarbonizing at the municipal level. PACE is an all-volunteer public health and environmental organization formed in 1973 by a group of concerned Connecticut citizens to promote the development of clean energy, encourage energy efficiency and conservation and challenge Connecticut’s commitment to nuclear power. Over many years, PACE has engaged in education, outreach and advocacy on clean energy issues. PACE is committed to developing a pathway to a 100% renewable future, free of fossil and nuclear fuels. PACE is the largest all-volunteer organization in CT working on these issues, and is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization.

1:15-2:05: Vehicle and home electrification panel discussion + Q&A with moderator Barry Kresch, President, EV Club of CT, and panelists Paul Braren, owner of TinkerTry and an all-electric home, and Rick Rosa, Senior Manager for EV Programs and Products from Avangrid/United Illuminating. Decarbonizing vehicles and the built environment requires working with a suite of incentives, electric utility programs, and equipment vendors. Learn about the latest EV/EVSE incentives and how the EDCs (utilities) are thinking about Vehicle to Grid (V2G) connectivity. Paul will share best practices and lessons learned from going all-in on his home remodeling by enrolling his Tesla Solar Roof and Powerwalls in Tesla’s Virtual Power Plant (VPP) with ConnectedSolutions program, powering two EVs utilizing Managed Charging and Charge on Solar, maximizing efficiency and savings by installing a SPAN smart electrical panel and installing heat pumps for year-round comfort with no natural gas.

2:05-2:30: Charles Rothenberger, Climate & Energy Attorney, Save the Sound will present highlights of the Regulations for Light, Medium and Heavy-Duty Vehicles under Advanced Clean Cars II (ACC II). In July 2023, Connecticut became the latest state to initiate adoption of the Advanced Clean Cars II rule, which will benefit society by requiring manufacturers to increase sales of electric and other zero-emission models within the state over time, culminating with 100% of new sales being ZEV in 2035.

2:30 – 3:00: Daphne Dixon, Co-founder and Executive Director, Live Green Connecticut and Director, Connecticut SWA Clean Cities Coalition, will present about Zoning for EV Readiness, a must attend for municipal decision makers.

Hotel Marcel bar and dining room
Hotel Marcel bar and dining room

Networking and Car Show 3:00-4:30: Enjoy beverages and food at the hotel bar while networking with other guests, and head outdoors to the lot adjacent to Hotel Marcel’s Superchargers to enjoy the car show while networking with EV owners that are members of Tesla Owners Club of CT, the EV Club of CT and the Westport Police Department.

Hotel Martel New Haven Superchargers with Teslas
Hotel Marcel New Haven Superchargers with Teslas

RSVP required: Register here.
Interested in a sponsorship? Please email evclubct@gmail.com.

Parking at the hotel is available to all. Club members that are participating in the car show, please register your vehicles for that portion of the event.

Guests may register for:

1) both event tickets: the symposium and car show (only if you’re showing a car),

2) only the symposium (attending the car show is open to all registered symposium guests)

3) only the car show (if you’re showing a car and will not be attending the symposium).

Connecticut Formally Proposes To Adopt Advanced Clean Cars 2 Rules

Governor Lamont And DEEP Host Press Conference To Announce CT Formally Adopting New Regs

This was not your typical press conference. It wasn’t a ribbon cutting for a new bridge, or better yet, for a new bank of DCFC charging stations funded by the NEVI (infrastructure) bill. It was about a wonky, weedy policy known as the California Air Resources Board Advanced Clean Car 2 regulations (ACC II). The Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) was responsible for shepherding the process of CT adopting these (as directed by the legislature). As complicated as the regulations may be, they can be simply summarized: more stringent fuel-efficiency standards culminating with 100% of light duty vehicles sold being zero emission or low-emission by 2035. The new regulations also now cover medium and heavy-duty vehicles (MHD), and according to Commissioner Dykes of DEEP, diesel emissions will be reduced by 90%.

The other good thing about this is the agglomeration of states. This was noted in the press event but, perhaps, not with enough emphasis. Just as with the first set of CARB regulations, when you have California, New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and a number of other states, that ends up being 40% or more of the new vehicle market and it becomes a de facto national standard. Commissioner Dykes pointed out that air blowing into CT from the west is already “out of compliance.” States like Ohio or Indiana that will not be part of this alliance, nonetheless will be getting cleaner vehicles.

Left to itself, industry, at least this industry, will not move fast enough to mitigate transportation sector emissions, the effects of which are already being felt. It is imperative to have policy that both pushes the industry to move faster as well as giving it the certainty it needs to plan. The first set of CARB regulations led to air quality improvements but it didn’t address medium and heavy duty vehicles and it is now out of date. Adoption of ACC2 is an unambiguous win.

According to the League of Conservation Voters, adopting the California standards will reduce smog and air pollution by over 750 tons per year in 2035 and over 900 tons per year by 2050, and yield as much as $1.4 billion in avoided healthcare costs between now and 2050.

There is a public comment period that is open until August 23rd, 5 PM. Comments may be sent to deep.mobilesources@ct.gov.

CT EV Registrations pass 36,000

Commissioner Dykes said the number represents a 20% increase since January and 42% year on year. Not to put too fine a point on it, but we need more. The state hopes to have 500,000 by 2030. EV sales are climbing nationally and more models are being introduced all the time, but growth needs to turn sharply upward.

We do not yet have the underlying detail of these registrations.

NEVI (National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure) Update

Connecticut will have north of $50 million to spend on EV infrastructure courtesy of the Federal Infrastructure Bill. We’ve been anxiously awaiting news about when we will see actual results. The first phase of NEVI is to be devoted to building out fast chargers along major highway corridors. According to the newly appointed Deputy Commissioner of the Department of Transportation, Karen Kitsis, the rule-making is expected to be complete by the end of this year with shovels in the ground in 2024.

E-Bike Rebates Explode

The CT state EV rebate program, CHEAPR, recently added an e-bike incentive. It blew through its entire budget allotment, supporting over 6,000 rebates, within 13 minutes of its going live.

Tesla to Open Store in CT

Tesla Store to Open on Tribal Land in CT

Tesla, frustrated for years by the legislature in its attempts to obtain permission to open stores in Connecticut, is now opening an outlet where the state rules don’t apply: the Mohegan Tribal land. Tribal land exists outside state jurisdiction and is subject only to federal law.

This tactic has been previously used by Tesla in New Mexico, where it has opened 2 outlets on tribal land, and in New York, where it has announced an agreement to build on Oneida Nation land about 20 miles east of Syracuse. New York has a limited number of Tesla stores, but this came about via a negotiation with the dealerships. The franchise laws there are still in place. This limited exception arrangement applies only to Tesla (i.e. not Rivian or Lucid) and caps the store count. Tesla has been chafing at this limit for a long time. Every Tesla store or gallery in NY is in New York City, Westchester County, or Long Island. The entire upstate region has been unserved.

The new Tesla facility, to be located at a former Victoria’s Secret outlet at the Mohegan Sun Casino, will sell and deliver vehicles. Test drives will be available. Renovation of the space is set to commence imminently and should be finished at some point this fall. Deliveries will begin before the facility is completed, and we will publish an update when that information is finalized. It is not a service-center.

Mohegan Sun is located about 44 miles from Hartford, 54 miles from New Haven, and 93 miles from Stamford. Stamford is the heart of Fairfield County, which is Tesla Central. And that is the limitation of opening on tribal land – it is not near the big population centers. Nonetheless, it will make a material difference for residents of the eastern part of the state. It is our expectation that Mount Kisco will remain a delivery option for customers in western CT. We are also waiting to hear the word on whether deliveries to CT customers will be enabled at the forthcoming Chicopee, MA location (10 miles over the state line off I-91. It will be a while before that large facility is built.)

A sales and delivery facility on tribal land does not mean that the company will stop its efforts to win the right to open stores in CT (a.k.a. direct sales). This could be viewed as planting a flag by Tesla, as the legislature has not acted in the interests of its constituents, over 80% of whom support allowing direct sales. On the other hand, the facility will open and the dealers will see that the world isn’t coming to an end. (A lengthier discussion of direct sales, following the Transportation Committee’s failure to raise the direct sales bill in the 2023 legislative session, can be found here.)

The obvious follow-on question is whether Rivian and Lucid will do the same thing. A lot of people come to these tribal casinos. It is good business for both parties.

According to the Mohegan Sun press release, Tesla will work with Mohegan to incorporate Tribal members and Mohegan Sun Team Members into its workforce development program.

We look forward to a future post about the new sales center when they have the grand opening in the fall.

Photo credit: Paul Braren

Teslas for Police: A Better Deal Than Ever

Post by Barry Kresch

Tesla Patrol Car Purchase Price Now Lower Than Ford Explorer ICE Police Vehicle

In 2019, when the Westport Police purchased a Model 3 for use as a patrol car for $52,000 vs. $37,000 for the incumbent gasoline-powered Ford Explorer, it was a good deal. But it had to be proven, as some were skeptical that the savings would be significant enough to overcome the $15,000 purchase premium. In our analysis, we found that when factoring in savings in fuel, maintenance, customization, and expected vehicle life, the Model 3 is projected to save over $50,000 over a 4-year period. The purchase price differential was recouped in the first year. That detailed analysis is here. Fast forward a few years, however, and things have really changed.

The law-enforcement version of the Ford Explorer, which comes with a few augmentations, such as a heavy-duty alternator, to be able to support the customization needs of the police, is now $47,000. The Westport Police expect delivery next month of their third Tesla and second Model Y, purchased this year, for which they paid $53,000. This new Tesla is eligible for Inflation Reduction Act incentives of $7500, making the acquisition price lower than the Ford.

The IRS code section 45W, clean vehicles for fleet incentives, applies to this vehicle. In 2023, obtaining the credit is a little cumbersome because an entity that does not pay taxes must file for “direct pay” to get the funds from the Treasury. This will become easier in January when the transfer provision goes into effect. The buyer transfers the tax credit to the seller and the seller gives the incentive as a rebate, deducted off the invoice price. This article describes the process for non-taxable entities.

The department buys the same Tesla vehicles that consumers buy. The Model Y that the police bought is the lowest-priced trim level – dual motor (AWD), standard range (279 miles). With continuing price-cutting by Tesla, that model, if bought today, goes for $47,740. At that price, it would also be eligible for a CHEAPR rebate of $2250. (CHEAPR rebates for fleet purchases are expected to be implemented within the next couple of months of this writing on 6/27/23.) The net purchase price for a Model Y will be $37,990, or $9000 less than the Explorer.

The Model Y now seems to be the EV of choice for the Westport Police, rather than the Model 3 due to the extra space. At the time the Model 3 was purchased, the Model Y did not yet exist. (The only other police department in the state with an electric patrol car is Wethersfield, which has a Ford Mach-E. The Westport PD also has other EVs for non-patrol duty uses, including these new additions.) A video walk through of a fully customized Model Y and the Mach-E can be found on the Club’s YouTube channel.

Increased Expectations for Vehicle Service Life

When we did the financial analysis in 2021, after the Model 3 had been in service for a year, we built an amortization schedule based on a projected 6-year service life for the Tesla compared to the historical 4 years for the Explorers. (After 4 years, the maintenance costs for the Explorers make it not cost-effective to continue using them as patrol cars.) Three years into the use of the Model 3, the police feel it is quite possible that the 6-year projection may be too conservative. The vehicle is holding up well. Maintenance costs are as low as forecast. The battery is in good shape (and they are monitoring it with Tesla-Fi). They intend to run with it as long as they can. Let’s say, and this may also be conservative, that the 6 years turns into 8 years. That means the capital cost of acquiring patrol cars gets cut in half.

How Is This Not a No-Brainer?

  • Lower acquisition cost
  • Lower fuel costs
  • Lower maintenance costs
  • Double the service life
  • Better performance

Westport Police Sign Displaying Their EVs

All Manner of EVs for Westport Police

Westport Police Add Electric Utility Vehicle and Electric Motorcycle to Fleet

Both vehicles were on display at the Westport Sunrise Rotary Duck Race fund raiser on June 24th as the department display the ongoing results of its efforts to reduce carbon emissions, as well as benefit from lower EV operating costs.

The photo at the top is the all-terrain utility vehicle. It looks rather like a golf cart, though designed for heavier-duty applications, including the winch on the seen on the front. This vehicle has the life we would all like to have, spending its days at Compo Beach, where it can be used on the sand if needed.

The vehicle is powered by 6 12-volt batteries. These are not lithium-ion. A charge lasts between 8-12 hours.

Utility vehicle batteries

Vehicle interior.

utility vehicle interior


Zero Electric Motorcycle

Photo is Westport Police Chief Foti Koskinas sporting the new Zero Electric Motorcycle (before he had a chance to change into his uniform). The Zero is a recent arrival and still has to be outfitted with decals and police lights. It will be used for parking and traffic enforcement. It replaces a Harley that was retired.

This stealthy bike has a 17.3 kWh battery, rated for a range of 183 miles city and 85 miles highway. Chief Foti states that those numbers are so far achieved in real world experience.

Besides these two new vehicles, the department has 2 Tesla patrol cars with a third on order, 2 Toyota Prius Prime Plug-in Hybrid, Honda Clarity PHEV, and a BMW i3 Battery Electric Vehicle – seven plug-in vehicles in all plus a Ford Interceptor conventional hybrid patrol car.

Westport Police Chief Foti Koskinas with Zero Motorcycle

CHEAPR – New Program Components Beginning to Be Implemented

The following is a summary of what was reported in the recent CHEAPR board meeting.

Pre-Qualification Voucher Program for Income Limited Persons

This new program soft-launched on March 29th.

There have been supplemental rebates for income-limited buyers (often short-handed as LMI) for new EV purchases, as well as rebates for used EV purchases for several years. These have gotten almost no traction. From the beginning, concerns were expressed that the criteria (participation in certain government assistance programs) were too restrictive and the post-purchase application process, whereby the purchaser had to float the cash for the incentive (as well as live in some suspense that it would come through), were just not realistic.

Those complaints, along with the empirical data, led the legislature to direct changes to the program that became law in Public Act 22-25, passed in 2022. In addition to the government assistance program participation, an income option was added, specifically that households with income of up to 3 times the federal poverty rate would be eligible regardless of program participation. Some examples of 3x poverty: $43,470 for a single person household and $90,000 for a 4-person household.

DEEP reports this has led to an encouraging early response. This is based on vouchers awarded. It doesn’t definitively mean that everyone who received a voucher has used it. That was a subject of discussion when the LMI program was first implemented. Apparently, some other states that had used vouchers had seen low conversion rates, and there was concern about how wasteful the extra admin overhead would be. As of this writing, DEEP has only updated published rebate data through April 13th, and there are no recorded LMI rebates between the end of March and April 13th, so it is too soon to have any visibility.

The next step is for there to be a marketing push. A vendor has been selected and we’ll see how fast the information gets out.

Used EV Rebate

As noted above, the LMI program includes rebates for used EVs. The CHEAPR website indicates which EVs are eligible, just as it does for new EVs. Only vehicles that previously met the criteria for eligibility when new will be eligible as a used vehicle. We thought there might be a willingness to loosen this and it is disappointing this is not the case. We think it needlessly limits the options for the consumer. There is already a gating requirement in terms of income limits. This feels needlessly restrictive.

There are some details that we await. The MSRP cap was lowered, then raised over the course of the program. Is the eligibility based on the current cap or the cap in effect at the time? What if a model has had price changes?

Fleet Incentive Program

A major addition to the program was extending the CHEAPR incentives to fleets. This applies to private fleets, municipalities, non-profits, and tribal entities. Non-profits must provide a Certificate of Legal Existence to prove good standing. According to DEEP, the launch will occur sometime in the third quarter.

The cap is 10 rebates per year and 20 lifetime. The DEEP commissioner has some flexibility to raise the cap for an organization if it is determined to be warranted.

The fleet program applies to new vehicles and the standard rebate only. The MSRP cap of $50K applies here as it does with the consumer.

E-Bike Rebate

The first phase of the e-bike program is scheduled to launch on June 28th with a point of sale voucher for brick and mortar stores. Online sales will come along later. CT residents age 18 or older can apply for a voucher that can be redeemed for an eligible e-bike at a participating retailer. Check with your preferred e-bike retailer to see if they are enrolled in the program.

The base rebate is $500. That can be augmented by an additional $1000 for LMI individuals.

There is an MSRP cap of $3000.

Eligible bikes must have either a UL 2849 or EN 15194 certification. (A pending certification does not count.) This is an important requirement to ensure safe e-bikes are purchased. Generally speaking, and unlike with automobiles, there is a paucity of regulation at this time. There is a lack of awareness that there are unsafe e-bikes out there, and with lithium-ion batteries, you are literally playing with fire.

Update: According to Bloomberg, the program was fully subscribed within 3 days of launch.

Legal Battle Over Proposed Shelton Rivian Service Center Continues

Court Rules in Favor of Rivian’s Motion to Dismiss; Plaintiffs File Motion to Reargue

Note: For those following this case, the docket number is AAN CV 22-6049137 in Superior Court, J/D of Ansonia, Milford. This is the link.

Update: Hearing scheduled for June 20 regarding plaintiffs motion.

June 20 Update: Court denies plaintiff motion for re-argument and sustains Rivian’s objection to plaintiff’s motion.

Rivian needs a license from DMV. Should they get that, and if there are no further appeals, they should then be in a position to begin renovating the site. The plaintiff has 20 days from June 20 to file an appeal if they so choose.


Rivian seeks to open a service center in Shelton, though they also want to deliver new vehicles at the location. There would be no showroom and no sales activity. Shelton granted an approval for a facility to be located at 2 Mountain View Drive. Mario D’Addario Buick, along with TD Properties, the owner of the D’Addario property, filed a lawsuit to force the Town to rescind the approval.

On May 16, the court ruled in favor of a motion filed by Rivian to have the lawsuit dismissed. The court ruled that the plaintiffs lacked standing due to their arguments not being a zoning issue but rather a licensing issue, which is the province of the Department of Motor Vehicles. Zoning regulations are meant to protect the public interest and are not intended to address business competition. Furthermore, Rivian acknowledged that it cannot carry out any activities that may require a license until it obtains such a license.

On June 5, the plaintiffs filed a Motion for Reconsideration and Reargument. They contend that since D’Addario has a new car dealer license and Rivian does not, they are a protected class of business in this licentiate, and this amounts to illegal competition.

This is not a legal blog and we don’t know whether DMV will get involved or where this will go. This is an earlier post from when the initial lawsuit was filed. Our opinion, in general, is that the dealerships are trying to make it as difficult as possible for direct sales companies to open servicing facilities. We have seen this with Tesla in East Hartford and South Windsor, and now this episode with Rivian.

Delaware Gets Direct Sales; Not So Connecticut

Post by Barry Kresch

The Direct Sales Morgue is Enlarged By One More Year as Bill Dies in Committee

As the legislative session inches towards its conclusion on June 7th, we have been through another year without enactment of legislation that would permit electric vehicle manufacturers using a direct sales business model to open stores in CT. These bills would permit manufacturers of exclusively battery electric vehicles (BEVs) that do not have an established dealership network (and are not majority owned by a company that does) to open company stores to sell and deliver directly to CT customers. These are companies such as Tesla, Rivian, and Lucid, with others on the horizon.

The proposed legislation would not affect the arrangements that existing dealerships have with their affiliated manufacturers. Governing the dealer/manufacturer relationship was the intent of the laws when they were passed long ago. All these dealer claims about how the franchise laws protect consumers is just smoke.

CT Insider, reporting on the current legislative session, quotes Transportation Committee Co-Chair, Sen. Christine Cohen characterizing the bill as “controversial,” that it would take up a lot of committee and floor time, and lack the votes to pass.

To quote former State Senator Will Haskell (D-Westport) when he previously raised direct sales, this bill is only controversial in Hartford. The way the bill was killed this year is the way it is always defeated – without being called for a vote. The legislators well know that their constituents support this bill. Many legislators are afraid to cross the dealerships, an entrenched and well-funded special interest. By working behind the scenes to prevent the bill from being called, they can have it both ways. They keep the dealers happy and they don’t have to go on the record opposing their voters, not to mention ding their environmental scorecard. (The CT League of Conservation Voters, the organization that publishes the scorecard, views direct sales a pro-environment measure, but the scorecard can only count votes that are cast.)

This blog wagers that a number of these behind-the-scenes “no” votes would turn to “yes” votes if taken publicly.

The CT Insider reporting also quoted Cohen as citing the actions of Tesla CEO, Elon Musk, as being a factor costing support. It is fair to acknowledge this. He is not helping matters. Direct sales used to be referred to as the “Tesla Bill,” but there are now other companies using this model. This blog sees this as a larger issue of consumer choice, EV adoption, and economics. It is the single most effective thing that can be done to accelerate EV sales.

Dealerships at times object even to their own affiliated manufacturers’ efforts to sell more EVs. For example, Ford’s new Model-e program that seeks to more aggressively position dealerships to sell EVs is moving forward, but it has engendered resistance and dealership lawsuits. The CT dealership trade association enlisted several CT federal and state elected officials to speak out publicly against the Ford plan.

Some legislators do openly support direct sales. Included among them is Rep. Keith Denning (D-Wilton), who submitted a direct sales bill this year, which was not raised by the Transportation Committee Chairs. This blog reached out to him and he provided this statement:

“My name is Keith Denning and as a freshman legislator I raised a bill in the Connecticut Legislature for direct sales of electric vehicles to the citizens of Connecticut. While the bill was not raised in committee, I still support the ability of car manufacturers to sell their product directly to the public. 
With the revolution of transportation into electric vehicles that we are currently experiencing, the sales of cars directly allows new companies coming into the market to keep their costs down by not having dealerships and can give lower pricing to the consumer.
I am not asking for current dealerships to close, but allowing for a new way for cars to be sold. This builds our economy, allows for small new manufactures to enter the market and makes Connecticut a leader in the transition to the new electric car economy.”

Delaware State Court Rules Direct Sales Does Not Violate Franchise Law

A nearby state, Delaware, now has direct sales. This came via the judiciary. A recent ruling from the Delaware Supreme Court held that the language in the franchise law applies only to existing manufacturer-dealer relationships and is not applicable to new companies that operate sans dealerships. Tesla filed the lawsuit.

For this to have a chance to happen in CT, Tesla or another manufacturer would have to file a lawsuit in state court. They are a legitimately injured party and would have the standing to proceed. The unsuccessful efforts to date in CT to legalize direct sales have only gone through the legislature. One potential downside is that if such an action were to be filed, the legislature would likely punt on dealing with it (which is basically what they’ve been doing anyway) until the process plays out. That could take some time. The Delaware case was appealed before it was taken up by the Supreme Court.

Massachusetts is another state in the region where direct sales came about via a lawsuit. However, if there is one takeaway from the Delaware ruling, it is that franchise laws are not uniform across states. The language of the CT law would have to separately be tested.

Consumers Support Direct Sales

The option of buying a vehicle via direct sales is overwhelmingly favored by consumers. When last the issue was polled in CT, 83% were in favor. Support cut across age, party affiliation and ethnicity. (The polling was fielded by public-opinion firm, GQR, with a sample of 500 likely voters and had a margin of error of +/- 4.4% at a 95% confidence interval. More detail is in the linked page.)

Poll Shows 83% of CT residents support EV direct sales

Broad Support for EV direct sales across all demographic groups

Testimonial Unanimity – When there was open testimony in 2021, 81 written testimonies were submitted to the Transportation Committee. If one excludes the 9 from individuals associated with the dealerships and the 3 from Tesla, Rivian, and Lucid, we are left with 69 from members of the public at large. All 69 of them were in favor of direct sales.

When Sen. Cohen remarks that the bill takes a lot of floor time (i.e. inconveniencing the legislators), the reason is that many people register to offer oral testimony. Public hearings package multiple bills into a day of hearings. When direct sales is on the agenda, it becomes a very long day indeed. In past hearings, some legislators have looked visibly annoyed, and some of them verbalized it, that they have to sit through more hearings about direct sales, where everyone but the dealers are in favor. Legislators, generally speaking, exhort the public to get involved. In this case they do, and ironically, it’s a problem for them. This was mitigated in a narrow sense in the short session of 2022, where by prearrangement, only a small number of people were permitted to testify.

Dealerships Now Seek To Block Service Centers

A more recent insidious development is that dealerships have mobilized to block direct sales manufacturers from opening service centers. They want to make getting the vehicles serviced as inconvenient as it is to buy them.

Hoffman Auto sued East Hartford when they granted a permit to Tesla to open a badly needed second service center to complement the existing one in Milford. East Hartford subsequently withdrew the permit and Tesla did not further pursue it. Dealer representatives showed up in force for a hearing in South Windsor regarding a proposed Tesla service center. More recently, Mario D’Addario Buick and TD Properties sued Shelton and Rivian after the Town granted Rivian a permit to build a service center. Rivian’s motion to dismiss is awaiting a ruling. The dealers latch on to anything they can to throw up roadblocks for these companies.

That New Tesla Service Center – It’s In Massachusetts

Tesla is building a new sales and service center in Chicopee, MA. The company was granted an approval by the Chicopee City Council on May 3rd. Chicopee is only about 10 miles north of the CT border off I-91. This location will be more convenient for customers in Hartford and points north than Milford. That sound you hear is those jobs and taxes going to MA. This will take some of the pressure off getting a Tesla serviced locally. It doesn’t change the fact that CT Tesla purchase customers have to pick up their vehicles in Mt. Kisco, NY.

Direct Sales = Greater EV Adoption

Every year there has been testimony before the legislature, the dealer representatives talk about how all-in they are for electric vehicles. Then every year, they keep not selling them, or not that many of them. When we look at the data, we see only modest growth.

Tesla has testified that an ideal scenario in its view is that Tesla becomes a smaller slice of a rapidly growing pie. That hasn’t happened. In fact, the Tesla share of registered EVs is higher now than when we began tracking it in 2017.

New Sierra Club Study

The Sierra Club recently released the third wave of its ongoing EV Shopper Study with fieldwork conducted in 2022. These studies have been fielded in 3-year intervals. Consumers visit or call dealerships to ask about EVs, see if the salespeople are able to answer basic questions, find out whether there is a charged vehicle available for a test-drive, etc. The findings of the new study are as disheartening as those of past studies.

  • 66% of car dealerships did not have a single EV for sale. Keep in mind, this includes both new and used vehicles.
  • To some degree, supply-chain issues persisted into 2022, but of the 66% of dealerships without EVs, 45% of them said they had no interest in selling EVs.

These numbers are exclusive of companies such as Tesla, Rivian, and Lucid that do not have dealerships, and which obviously want to sell EVs. Also, they are national numbers. The Sierra Club does break the numbers down by region, but the numbers in the Northeast were not that different from the overall profile.

Some dealers make an effort, but we are still a long way from where most or all dealers act like they actually want to sell EVs. This is consistent with what we have been seeing in our ongoing analyses of CT CHEAPR rebate data.

Atlas Public Policy – Direct Sales Would Remove an Estimated 42 Million Metric Tonnes of CO2

Atlas Public Policy builds analytical tools to help policy makers and businesses make decisions. Atlas, in conjunction with the Electrification Coalition, undertook an analysis to assess whether a state’s adoption of direct sales accelerates EV adoption. Their findings were that, indeed, it does. From the report:

  • Consumers have reported poor EV buying experiences at dealerships,
  • Dealers are incentivized to sell internal combustion engine vehicles rather than EVs due to the dealership revenue associated with future servicing needs,
  • Dealer franchise laws add costs for consumers, and
  • Giving consumers the freedom to buy via direct-to-consumer models leaves both consumers and manufacturers better off.

The report goes on to forecast what the emissions impact would be if direct sales were to be adopted country-wide. Because it is a forecast, it presents its findings as a range. The midpoint of the range would result in the removal of 42 million metric tonnes of CO2 in the period of 2023-2030.

Bloomberg Analysis

Bloomberg published an opinion piece entitled, “Car Dealership Laws Aren’t Fit for the Electric Age,” in which they looked at EV adoption in open vs. closed states. (The article is behind a paywall.) The results were quite striking with over 3X the EV adoption rates in states with uncapped direct sales, compared to those prohibiting the practice.

The legacy Automotive Industry Is Often Its Own Worst Enemy

One could be forgiven for thinking that the strategy of many of the established automotive companies has been denial.

Ford is a notable exception. They made the Model-e gambit, followed last week by the hugely consequential announcement that the company has negotiated an arrangement with Tesla to give Ford owners access to the Tesla Supercharger network, and that beginning in 2025, Ford vehicles will be manufactured with native Tesla-compatible connectors. In our view, the Supercharger arrangement is a smart move for both companies. It potentially could influence other companies to follow suit. (We understand that existing Ford EV owners will be able to get adapters. We would be interested in hearing from Ford owners who are readers of this blog about how and what Ford is communicating. Please leave a comment.)

CCS stands for Combined Charging Standard and NACS stands for North American Charging Standard. CCS is backed by most manufacturers. Where it says “Tesla” below, it is the NACS connector, which is the standard Tesla uses and has been pushing to be the universal connector, without much success until now. You be the judge of which is the more elegant design. Between Tesla and Ford (and, I suppose, I shouldn’t overlook Aptera; though they haven’t delivered any vehicles yet, they still get points), the majority of EVs on the road will have NACS.

NACS vs CCS connectors

Not all companies are moving aggressively like Ford. Stellantis is a major manufacturer, the owner of Jeep, Chrysler, Dodge, Ram, Alfa Romeo, Fiat, Maserati, and several others. And yet if we look at their profile in CT, they are nearly invisible. They have a modestly successful Jeep Wrangler PHEV and that is about it. (Stellantis represents 1553 of 30,017 EVs registered in CT as of Jan 1 – 1,200 from Jeep, 317 from Chrysler, 36 from Fiat. Only the Fiat are fully electric – BEV and they are not currently being manufactured.) Now, as they play catch-up – they announced a new EV platform – they are laying off thousands. From Yahoo Finance: “The company has about 56,000 workers in the U.S., and about 33,000 of them could get the (buyout) offers.”

Larger Environment

While we’re fighting over the right to buy an EV directly from the manufacturer, China is banning the sale of ICE vehicles that don’t meet its new, stringent emission standard (VI B) by July 1. That could send shock waves across the world as inventories of unsellable ICE vehicles grow. We are seeing states ban the sales of new ICE vehicles as of around 2035.

Closing Thoughts

How dealerships and the legacy automobile industry writ large will ultimately fare is up to them. If they innovate and compete, they’ll be fine. Some of them have embraced EVs, but judging by the data, not nearly enough. In CT, the dealership special interests have thus far been given the message that they can sit back and not worry about it, that change can happen on their timetable, negative consequences for those of us who live in the state be damned.

There are many EV Club members who own or have ordered a Tesla, Rivian or Lucid. For those of us who have made the trek to Mt. Kisco to pick up a Tesla, it stares us in the face that the jobs to build, staff, and maintain the facility are in New York, and the company pays property taxes to Mt. Kisco and a franchise registration fee to NY. Manufacturers selling directly, a large and fast growing industry, are not choosing CT to set up manufacturing facilities, despite our ports, roadways, railways, and highly educated and trained workforce. We lose twice.

Today’s headlines and accompanying disruptions in the oil and gas market punctuate the urgency of moving away from fossil fuels. Allowing direct sales will help CT meet its EV adoption objectives, create green jobs, reduce pollution, and, most importantly, it is what is right for the citizens of CT.

How Can You Help

We agree with Rep. Denning that a direct sales law is not anti-dealer; it is pro-consumer and pro-CT.

We have to ask ourselves why we’re okay with making it harder for CT residents to buy an EV, not easier. Why are legislators ignoring the will of the people and bowing to the dealerships?

Our EV Club is not a political organization (501(c)4). We do not have paid lobbyists prowling the Capitol. We can only operate as a grassroots organization evangelizing for EV adoption, promoting free competition, and being open to new and innovative ways of doing business.

You can be sure that legislators hear from the dealerships and their lobbyists whenever there is a bill. They have to hear from as many of us as possible. Even if you have emailed or called previously, every year is a new game.

The 2024 legislative session will be a short session, which happens in election years. The rules are more restrictive and there may well not be a direct sales bill introduced. But as we get into election season, that will be a good time to make your voice heard.