Tesla To Town?

Tesla is not yet allowed to sell its cars directly to Connecticut consumers.

But if it can — and the electric car manufacturer is pushing the state legislature hard to do so — one of its first dealerships may be at 20 Saugatuck Avenue, right here in Westport.

The site is currently occupied by a large, recently renovated and completely vacant shopping center. It once housed a quick mart, fitness center and AAA.

20 Saugatuck Avenue

Last night, the landlord and Tesla hosted a small event. They told neighbors they plan to ask the town to amend zoning regulations to allow a Tesla service center there.

The language is broad enough that — should Tesla get permission from Connecticut to sell vehicles directly to consumers — they could convert the center to a dealership. Company reps last night did not rule out the possibility.

It’s a 10-year lease. You do the math.

Despite not being allowed to sell directly in the state, there are about 1,300 Teslas registered in Connecticut. Electrek says that represents 62% of the electric vehicles in the state.

41 responses to “Tesla To Town?

  1. Philip M. Perlah

    It also once housed an indoor tennis complex.

  2. Rozanne Gates

    I know a Tesla owner who had to buy his car in Westchester County. Money lost for CT

  3. Michael Calise

    They did appear before the P & Z a few weeks ago on a “pre-app” It seems like a viable use and I would say they got a reasonable reception for the Idea.
    Of course there is a long way to go since aside from a recent text amendment for “improvements” to the Volvo dealership on Post Road East we do not have actually have Auto Dealer regulations on the books.

  4. Hey Dan:
    It’s Hilary Burns. I am a finalist for an AFLAC contest where the winner gets a TESLA. So, if I win, there could be another TESLA in Connecticut. FYI. The drawing is next Thursday.

  5. Dick Lowenstein

    Wow, Tesla! First, Maserati. Can Rolls-Royce, Bentley, and Lamborghini be far behind. Watch out, Greenwich. We’re on your tail.

  6. A Tesla dealership in our town would not only be a great boon to our Westport economy, it would also be a great statement by Westporters who are pro ecological and on the cutting edge of cleaning up the environment, as well as an inspiration to the students of our community! Consider supporting the current legislation in CT, HB 7097, to allow direct Tesla dealerships in CT. https://www.teslact.com/petition

  7. Nancy Hunter

    Why is Tesla not allowed to sell directly in CT?
    Maybe this explains why Silicon Valley exists in the west.

  8. Allen Levenson

    To answer Nancy’s question, Tesla is not allowed to sell directly in CT since they have factory owned stores only, not independent dealerships which are privately owned. Most all 50 states have franchise protection laws that state auto manufacturers cannot sell directly to consumers but rather must sell through independently owned franchisees. The laws were enacted during the days when there were only a few very large auto manufacturers. Many states have relaxed the rules and allowed Tesla to sell directly since they are such a small company (compared to Ford, GM, etc.). Thus far, CT has not followed suit.

    • Jack Krayson

      Yes Tesla is ‘small’ compared to Ford, GM, etc.but only in terms of unit sales volume. But based on their closing stock price, Tesla’s ‘market-cap’ has already surpassed GM’s #FutureSpeculation

  9. Scott Brodie

    I recently spoke to an NYC colleague about her experiences with her Tesla: Great acceleration. Handy for local trips. Very anxiety-producing for weekend trips from NYC to western Massachusetts — not enough spare battery capacity even for a brief side trip. Recharging at “Super-Charger” stations takes about 20 min; at home, about 8 hours. “A great second car; as an only car, perhaps not so much.”

    • Luciano Morelli

      I have taken mine down to FL, Niagra Falls, SC, MA, TN, etc. We have another car we could have taken but the Tesla is a much better ride. Don’t miss the gas stations much either. No anxiety here.

  10. Roger Schwanhausser

    I’m all for allowing Tesla cars to be sold in Westport, but while a Tesla dealership might be cool, and green, and some benefit to Westport, it does nothing to address the needs of the Saugatuck community. The current Saugatuck TOD study, while just underway, identified initial requirements for Saugatuck such as: greater livability, improved pedestrian and walking support, and wider residential choices. There is nothing about Tesla (or any other car dealership) that helps to meet those needs. 20 Saugatuck Avenue is one of the few locations that could support a market or a pharmacy in walking distant for Saugatuck residents, and not bring increased traffic into the heart of Saugatuck center. I’m not sure why the previous grocery/market closed, but the town should look broadly across the needs of the Saugatuck community and work with the landlord to attract an alternative tenant that does significantly more to improve Saugatuck.

    • Carolanne Curry

      You are so right….This Tesla proposal is nowhere on the map for the Saugatuck-TOD relationship. But as a cautionary thought, the TOD project is not a Saugatuck-resident-friendly project at this time.

  11. Not an owner, but all for bringing Tesla and innovation to CT and Westport! Maybe the deal can include a few spruce ups to the Saugatuck hood.

  12. Bart Shuldman

    When will CT stop giving tax incentives to people buying electric cars? The states highways and bridges are paid by the gasoline tax and those buying a Tesla don’t help fund the maintenance of the roads they are using. Time to stop helping those that can afford a Tesla to buy th car, and start helping to keep up the states roads and highways.

    • Luciano Morelli

      I don’t believe the State has ever given an incentive to people buying electric cars, it is the Federal Government doing so.

      • Bart Shuldman

        Luciano. Not true. CT continues to give an incentive to purchase an electric car. Just go to EVConnecticut.

        • Bart; They, electric cars.,use the roads but do not pay the gas tax; that is a subsidy. Tesla might not be a viable company without government help.

          • Bart Shuldman

            Michael. No doubt. CT tax payers face a real problem with the states transportation fund running a deficit. If CT continues to give incentives to buy electric vehicles and hybrids, less and less gasoline taxes will be collected which is how the state funds the transportation fund. The talk in hartford is to install tolls and raise the gasoline tax. CT collects no sales tax for the purchase of a Tesla, as they are
            purchased in other states, and they will pay nothing to help the highways and bridges.

            These are just the facts and one of the many issues in CT.

            • Luciano Morelli

              If you guys think that the gas tax goes into a lock box and is used to just pay for road improvements, then I have a bridge to sell you.

              • Bart Shuldman

                Luciano. You are right-there is no lock box. But, CT roads and highways and bridges are falling apart. If the state continues to use the gasoline tax for most of the transportation funding, then the state should stop the incentives for electric cars and have electric cars owners pay a transportation use fee to make up the lost revenue. I am not preaching a new tax, but either a new method of collecting money for the states roads and bridges be put in place or CT’s infrastructure will deteriorate further.

                • Luciano Morelli

                  What Hartford must do is fix the mess they gotten us into in a responsible manner. Revenues for the State hit new highs and yet deficits are still projected. Deal with the problems instead of soaking the citizens and pretending that everything will work itself out. The state of our roads and infrastructure is but a symptom of the problem, with mismanagement of government being the problem.

            • Greg Krynick

              You pay sales tax in the state you register the car, not buy it. So if they are registered in CT, then they paid sales tax in CT

        • Luciano Morelli

          I’ve been corrected, thank you. When I purchased my car, 2.75 yrs and 45k mikes ago, there were no State subsidies for electric cars.

    • Nancy Hunter

      Time to think outside the box and catch up with the rest?

  13. Tesla does not care about Westport and the community. It can already sell cars through the existing dealer network. Dealers have significant investments in their communities and Tesla has no concern for family run businesses that support the all the local charities in Town. When was the last time Amazon.com gave to the local little league?

    • Jason Patrick

      Actually, you may be familiar with the program offered by several of the large grocery chains who allow you to link your loyalty card to a school or other local non-profit organization who will then receive a small percentage of the proceeds from your purchases. Amazon has a similar program called Amazon SMILES. Our LOCAL high school band participates and has received several thousand dollars just since the beginning of the school year from purchases made by customers using our referral link….

    • Luciano Morelli

      Yes because everyone loves going to a middle man and paying that extra margin. Oh, and the overall experience at most dealers is so friendly too as they try to find ways to trick you into overpaying.

  14. A Tesla dealership might be great, and it’s sure a boon to status to have the Maserati dealership in town. But if you want to see(or buy) truly great, AMERICAN type cars, stop in at Dragone Classic Cars on the West Post Rd. That’s where the real cars live.

  15. Hanne Jeppesen

    Interesting comments. I live in the San Francisco Bay Area, the part known as the East Bay, but I work at Stanford Mall Shopping Center, which is located in Palo Alto, very close to Facebook, Google, Microsoft. I see Tesla’s all the time, but more so in the Palo Alto area, than where I live. I think there even is a Tesla store, or will be soon, in the Shopping Center.

    When I started to work at the Mall several years ago, there were 2 electric car’s charging stations, a few years later they put in about 4 more, about a year ago the expanded again, I believe now there are at least between 20 and 30, haven’t counted them, but they are all along the walls on the lower enclosed garage

  16. Bart Shuldman

    Looks like Tesla will need the service center. They just announced recalling 53,000 cars. More than 60% of all their cars sold.