Tesla Direct Sales in CT

“Tesla Bill”

The “Tesla Bill” is again before the state legislature. The official moniker is HB 7097. This bill would create a carve-out from the existing dealer laws that would permit Tesla (or other similarly situated EV makers should they come along) to sell directly to customers from factory-owned stores. CT is currently one of a handful of states that have denied this option for Tesla. The WECC blogged in some detail about last year’s bill in April of 2016.

The legislation to create such a carve-out has been re-introduced (for the third year running) and at the time of this writing is still pending. The 2017 legislative session adjourns on June 7th.

Tesla is hosting a forum to discuss the bill and its meaning for clean transportation. The Westport Electric Car Club is an invitee. It will take place at the showroom of Dragone Classic Motors, 176 Post Road West, Westport CT. The meeting begins at 6:00 PM. Panelists will be:

Will Nicholas – Tesla Government Relations Manager

Avi Kaner – Selectman, Town of Westport

Jonathan Steinberg – CT State Representative and Transportation Committee Member

A representative from the Connecticut Fund for the Environment

This meeting is open to the public and we look forward to meeting all of those interested in this topic.

2017 EV Road Rally – and Bikes!

5th Annual EV Road Rally

The 5th annual Westport Electric Car Club EV Road Rally will include electric bikes courtesy of an arrangement with Pedego Electric Bikes of Norwalk.

In past years a number of newly introduced EVs have participated in the rally such as last year with a Tesla Model X and the second generation Chevrolet Volt. This year’s rally will include the Chevrolet Bolt, one of the first to be seen in Connecticut. The 5th annual Westport Electric Car Club EV Road Rally will include electric bikes courtesy of an arrangement with Pedego Electric Bikes of Norwalk. In past years a number of newly introduced EVs have participated in the rally such as last year with a Tesla Model X and the second generation Chevrolet Volt. This year’s rally will include the Chevrolet Bolt, one of the first to be seen in Connecticut.

Rally Details:

Entry Fee: $50 (car or bike)

Bike Rental Fee: $25

Location: Start and finish at Westport/Saugatuck Metro-North Station (New Haven-bound side)


Registration and driver check-in is at 10:00 AM

The rally starts at 11:00 AM

Finish approximately 1:00 PM

Coffee served at the start of the rally.

There will be an en-route stop in Wilton at the Wilton Go Green Festival.

As in past years, our rally master will devise a 35-40 mile course winding through the back roads of Fairfield County. There will be a separate, shorter course for the bikes. IT IS REQUIRED THAT ALL DRIVERS HAVE A NAVIGATOR. IF YOU DO NOT HAVE ONE, CONTACT THE CLUB AND WE WILL FIND ONE FOR YOU. Bike riders will follow a lead bicycle.

EV Test Drives available at the conclusion of the rally.

Food available.

Families welcome!

Tesla Speaks to Westport Electric Car Club About Selling Direct in CT

Tesla Direct Sales

A crowd of 50+ electric vehicle (EV) enthusiast attendees filled the showroom at Dragone Classic Motors in Westport for a meeting of the Westport Electric Car Club (WECC) to hear remarks from Will Nicholas, Government Relations Manager of Tesla Motors, about proposed legislation in Hartford (Senate Bill 3) that would enable Tesla to open company stores in Connecticut.

This is the second year that legislation that would enable Tesla to open stores in CT has been proposed in Hartford and there is vocal opposition from the Connecticut Automotive Retailers Association (CARA) as well as legacy manufacturers.

Connecticut is one of 5 states, along with Texas, Arizona, West Virginia, and Michigan, that have laws restricting the sale of cars to independently owned dealerships. Currently, CT residents wishing to purchase a Tesla must either do so online or visit a Tesla store in a neighboring state. The closest Tesla stores to Fairfield County are in White Plains and Mount Kisco, NY. There are currently about 1100 Teslas registered in CT.

There is some irony here in that one of the largest, if not the largest, impediment to legacy car manufacturers selling EVs is their own dealer networks. The NY Times ran an article in late 2015 entitled, “A Car Dealers Won’t Sell: It’s Electric.”

This is consistent with our experience at the WECC. We are an organization that tries to get people to drive electric. We educate the public and help facilitate a person’s journey to the plug-in vehicle that is right for them.  There are some dealers who are eager to work with us, and have sold EVs to our members as a result; there are numerous others who give us a cold shoulder. We offer many opportunities for dealers to speak at our club meetings and exhibit their vehicles to an interested audience at our EV road rally and other club events. These events include green fairs (we get invited to way more than we can handle!) and the Lime Rock Historic Fest.

Uncertain Legislative Environment

SB 3 does not do away with the franchise law but creates an exception that would apply to Tesla and other prospective independent EV manufacturers (and there are a couple of nascent ventures in this area). The way this exception is worded in the bill applies to a manufacturer that does not currently have affiliated dealerships, manufactures only electric vehicles, sells only their own brand of vehicle at retail, does not hold a controlling interest in another manufacturer, and is not controlled by another manufacturer. This is a link to the text of the bill.

The bill won the approval of the transportation committee on March 14 by a vote of 29-4 and is now before the full Senate. Westport State Representative Jonathan Steinberg, who is on the House Transportation Committee, attended the meeting and pronounced the fate of the bill as uncertain. The legislative session adjourns on May 4, not leaving much more time to move it forward.

Strong Model 3 Reception

Tesla has already been a major force in the EV world even though their 3 vehicles to date have been expensive, niche vehicles. Their recent announcement of a mid-market priced vehicle, the Model 3, has been met with an astounding response with over 300,000 prospective customers placing a $1000 deposit to reserve one absent an actual car to see or test drive (and with no advertising support). To put this number in context, since the modern generation of plug-in vehicles (including battery EVs and plug-in hybrids) became available in 2010, there have been roughly 430,000 sold in total(in the USA) through March of 2016 (Source: InsideEVs.com).

Discussing Tesla’s business approach, Mr. Nicholas describes the Tesla brand as standing for a set of environmental values and a customer experience that is carefully curated by the company. Mr. Nicholas likened Tesla stores to Apple stores, particularly with their unpressured sales environment. The traditional manufacturer/dealer model, he explains, does not work for this type of selling, nor is it economically viable for Tesla, at least not presently.

Tesla was reported (by The Hartford Courant) to be interested in opening 3 stores in CT. During his remarks, Mr. Nicholas said that number is more likely 5. In addition, Tesla would expand its servicing locations. Service centers are regulated differently than stores and there is currently one Tesla service center, located in Milford. Mr. Nicholas said that more will be needed to keep up with anticipated demand.

Tesla has represented that each location requires direct investment in the millions to set them up, would employ up to 25 individuals per location, and that their ability to sell directly would generate an additional $1.6 million in sales taxes for the state.

For consumers interested in learning more, Tesla has set up a website, Teslact.com, to provide information.

Tesla to Speak at April 14 Westport Electric Car Club Meeting

Tesla push for direct sales in CT

Will Nicholas, Government Relations Manager for Tesla Motors will be speaking at the WECC meeting on April 14.

DATE: APRIL 14, 2016

TIME: 5:30 PM


Mr. Nicholas will be discussing the status of Tesla’s efforts to get legislation passed that would permit Tesla (or any other EV manufacturer) to open stores in Connecticut, something that is not currently legal. Only dealers which are not owned by the automobile manufacturer are permitted to sell vehicles. Tesla has built a business model around selling directly to the consumer.

Currently, Tesla has a servicing location in Milford but no stores. As reported by the Hartford Courant in February of this year, Tesla would like to open 3 stores in the state and hire from 12 – 24 employees at each location. The Courant also reported that Tesla estimates generating $1.68 million per year in sales tax revenue.

The closest Tesla stores to Fairfield County are currently located in White Plains, NY and Mount Kisco, NY.

Mr. Nicholas will also speak to some of Tesla’s other recent initiatives such as the Model 3, which has generated over a quarter million pre-orders, and its Gigafactory lithium-ion battery production facility.

This meeting is open to the public.

Tri-Town Teachers Federal Credit Union Welcomes Members From Westport Electric Car Club

Tri-Town Teachers Credit Union

Members of the Westport Electric Car Club are now eligible to join the Tri-Town Teachers Federal Credit Union and receive the full array of banking and insurance services offered at rates generally below standard bank rates.

The National Credit Union Association has modified its regulations to allow community organizations to become members. The partnership between the TTTFCU and WECC is a particularly good fit in light of the credit union’s Go Green Initiatives, which include the installation of solar panels on the roof of their historic 1882 carriage house location at 61 Jessup Road in downtown Westport. In addition to generating clean electricity for the building, they also power two Level 2 EV charging stations which are open to the public for no charge, and which were installed courtesy of a contribution from Karl Chevrolet.

The TTTFCU also offers discounted auto loans to purchasers of plug-in vehicles.

To quote from the credit union:

“We hope to find other like-minded organizations whose members are interested in maintaining the rich historic heritage of our area and that support green initiatives to preserve the beauty and environmental health of our planet.”

EV Club Highlights from 2015

2015 Recap

2015 has been a great year for our EV Club. From our third annual EV Road Rally to winning multiple awards to the productive relationships that have been developed with other environmental organizations, local officials, and businesses, a lot has been accomplished and provides us with a running start toward 2016. These are some of the highlights:


                                     THIRD ANNUAL EV ROAD RALLY

Westport First Selectman Jim Marpe waves the green checkered flag to start the EV road rally.

Westport First Selectman Jim Marpe waves the green checkered flags signifying the start of the road rally.

The third annual Westport Electric Car Club Road Rally was held under crystal clear blue skies on May 3, 2015. This year the club partnered with the Wilton GoGreen organization and the rally finish line was at their Green Festival. The rally for 2016 has been scheduled for Sunday, May 1. It will commence at the Saugutuck Metro North Railroad depot as in the past. Other details will be forthcoming early next year. SAVE THE DATE! 



Our EV club was given three awards this year and we are grateful to have been appreciated by these organizations.

Lime Rock

In August, the club participated for the second consecutive year at the Lime Rock Historic Fest and was given a Best in Show Award.


 Award given to the WECC for its exhibit at Lime Rock Park. (Photo: Barry Kresch)

WeGreen Westport Award

Our EV Club was one of the recipients of the 2015 WeGreen Westport awards, given by the Westport Green Task Force.Westport First Selectman Jim Marpe presents Leo Cirino, president of the Westport Electric Car Club with the We Green Westport Award

The presentation of the award by First Selectman Jim Marpe to club president Leo Cirino, pictured here with club member Barry Kresch. (Photo: Westport Electric Car Club)

Text of the certificate (Photo: Westport Electric Car Club)

The WeGreen awards go to community organizations that contribute to the sustainability efforts in our community.


Green Coast Award

Leo Cirino Receives Fairfield County Green Award

The WECC was given a Green Coast Award from the Conscious Decisions organization for its role in promoting environmentally responsible transportation.

Leo Cirino is pictured above holding the certificate for the Green Coast Award at the Taylor Park Green Festival. (Photo: Barry Kresch)


Gen 2 Chevy Volt

The club continues to work with local businesses and organizations.WECC gets preview of Gen 2 Volt at Karl Chevrolet

One of the major EV introductions this year was the Gen 2 Chevy Volt. The club was invited to see a prototype at the Karl Chevrolet dealership in New Canaan, CT. The arrow points to one of the innovations of the Gen 2 Volt, which is an indentation along the side/top of the body to improve aerodynamic flow.

Karl Chevrolet offers club members a discount on the purchase of plug-in vehicles. Contact us for details.

In 2016, club members will be eligible to become members at the Tri-Town Teachers Federal Credit Union and their offerings of numerous no-fee banking services. The TTFCU is located on Jessup Road with two solar-powered level 2 charging stations adjacent. More detail on that coming in January.

The town added one additional public charging station in 2015, a second unit in the back of Town Hall on Myrtle Avenue. Both are level 2 and are free to use. There are now a total of 10 public charging stations in town. Aside from the TTTFCU and Town Hall, the others are at the Saugatuck Metro-North depot (four solar-powered level 1 chargers) and the Green’s Farms Metro-North station (two level 2 chargers). At the risk of repetition, all of these charging stations are free, though railroad parking regulations apply at Saugatuck and Green’s Farms.

We look forward to an exciting and productive 2016 and wish everyone a healthy and happy Holiday Season. Cheers!

EVs at Lime Rock Historic Fest

Lime Rock Gathering of the Marques

The Westport Electric Car Club is poised to participate for the second successive year at the Lime Rock Historic Fest and the Gathering of the Marques on Sunday, September 6. The club will again exhibit the 1898 Riker electric car from Dragone Classic Motors, along with EVs owned by club members.

Miggs Burroughs did a great poster for us this year. We hope to see EV owners and other interested people at Lime Rock!

Preview of Volt 2.0 at Karl Chevrolet

EV Club Sees Pre-Production Prototype of Gen 2 Volt at Karl Chevrolet

The showroom at Karl Chevrolet (New Canaan, CT), featured, for a short period of time, the Gen 1 and Gen 2 Volt side by side. The latter had been trucked to town for a press event that occurred at the dealership during the afternoon of July 28 to promote the Connecticut EV purchase incentive program CHEAPR. That evening the WECC paid a visit to the showroom to see the new Volt before the freight truck came to cart it back to Michigan.

Club members were able to look and touch, but not drive. This was a pre-production prototype and was not street-legal. Actual production begins in August. The first tranche of cars will be sent to the West Coast. Deliveries locally are expected in late October or November.

The aerodynamics of the vehicle have been further refined in the new model. There are strategically placed nips and tucks in the bodywork, including where the arrow is pointing in the photo. A small ridge has been molded along the side of the roof so the air is channeled over the back of the car rather than washed over the side.

The center stack has been considerably reworked as seen in the photo below.

The old touch screen had that cool space-age vibe, but not the most user-friendly operation. It has been replaced with a more conventional set of climate controls in the lower section. The upper section is now an iPad size screen which will be fully integrated with Apple CarPlay and Google Android Auto.

Volt drivers quickly become practiced, even obssessive, about squeezing out every last electric mile possible. For your squeezing pleasure is a new feature, paddles behind the left side of the steering wheel that apply regen braking. This places the drive more deeply into the regen spectrum than driving in “first” gear (EVs don’t really have transmissions). This was a feature originally introduced in the Cadillac ELR.

One of the cautions about driving in “first” is that the brake lights don’t go on and a driver behind a Volt could be surprised by the relatively quick deceleration. The paddles, because the drag is greater, will cause the brake lights to illuminate. One pedal driving is here, if that’s your thing.

The new Volt comes with sort of a middle rear seat. A (hopefully) limber passenger will need to sit with legs splayed to accommodate the battery pack hump which is still there. It looks like the main difference is the presence of a seat belt. Also, the pass-thru is gone, replaced by 2/3, 1/3 split fold down seats.

Rear View of Gen 2 Volt

The more heavily raked style tapers down to the rear section of the hatchback, where the configuration of the small trapezoidal window below the spoiler is no longer present.

The numbers:

Rated electric range – 53 miles, up from 38

MPG on gas – 42, up from 37. Use of regular gas versus premium in Gen 1.

Total electric + gas range is 420 miles.

0-60 – 8.3 seconds, down from 9.0

The Volt remains an innovative design, a hybrid configuration where the gasoline engine acts as a generator for the electric drive unit, and with the greatest electric range of any plug-in hybrid. The Voltarians among us at the meeting approved.

WeGreen Westport Award Given to WECC

Westport First Selectman Jim Marpe presenting certificate to Leo Cirino, President of the WECC.

From left to right: First Selectman Jim Marpe, Barry Kresch of WECC, Leo Cirino of WECC, and Clarinda Higgins, an awardee from the Sherwood Island State Park Nature Center.

Photo credit: Dave Matlow, Westport Now

The Westport Green Task Force named the Westport Electric Car Club as one of its 2014/2015 WeGreen Westport Awardees. The club was one of 5 recipients.

The WeGreen Award is given to those individuals, businesses, or organizations who contribute to making Westport a more sustainable community. The WECC was recognized for its work with the town to develop EV charging station infrastructure (9 charging stations to date), and for staging an annual EV Road Rally promoting the benefits of EV ownership.

The ceremony took place at Wakeman Town Farm as part of the Westport GreenDay activities.

For more details and a complete list of award recipients, our friends at Westport Now provide the full story.

Charging Stations at NCC

2 new level 2 charging stations installed at NCC

The Westport Electric Car Club joined officials from Norwalk Community College, the State of CT and Town of Norwalk for the ribbon cutting marking the official unveiling of 2 new level 2 electric vehicle charging stations. In the photo, NCC President David Levinson is flanked by State Senator Bob Duff and Norwalk Mayor Harry Rilling.

NCC President David Levinson announced plans by NCC for its campus to be carbon neutral by 2025. With that as background, two electric vehicle charging stations have been installed at the NCC West Campus. These stations were funded by a CT Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) grant that was obtained for the college by Eric Gribin, the Director of its Building Efficiency and Sustainable Technology (BEST) program.  The grant was supplemented by a donation from Karl Chevrolet of New Canaan.

These charging stations, as described by Tracy Babbidge, the Bureau Chief for Energy at DEEP, are 2 of 265 such installations across 55 towns throughout the state that have been funded by DEEP grants. Ms. Babbidge noted that transportation emissions account for 40% of emissions statewide. The efforts made by the state have earned it a 5th best ranking among all states for energy efficiency, improved from 9th three years ago.

These charging stations are open to the public, and per the terms of the DEEP grant, charging is offered free for 3 years. According to State Senator Bob Duff, 90% of CT residents should now be “range confident,” as opposed to being concerned about range anxiety.

Norwalk’s Mayor Rilling noted that this brings the number of public charging stations in the city to 7, and that Norwalk has accumulated credits to get another 3.