Electric Car Dealer May Still Move Into Dragone

Yesterday, “06880” reported that Carvana — the online used car dealer — is moving into the space vacated last spring by Dragone Classic Motorworks.

Though the Planning & Zoning Commission recently passed a text amendment allowing an electric car dealership on the property — provided it remediated all the oil, chemicals and other contaminants there — Carvana would not have to do that. As a non-electric car dealer, the text amendment does not apply.

However, Carvana is only a temporary tenant.

According to a letter sent by David Ross of 176 PRW LLC — the owner of the 176 Post Road West property, diagonally across from Kings Highway Elementary School — to Mary Young, P&Z director, he and his company are “strong advocates” for electric vehicles.

In fact, he says, he’s been involved in their development since 2005. In 2013 he bought an EV, joined the Westport Electric Car Club, and began working to bring an EV facility to Westport. That’s when he first eyed the Dragone site.

“We acquired the property and the lease at 176 with the sole purpose of bringing an EVAD (electric vehicle auto dealership) to Westport,” he writes.

“We believe it would be great for Westport and help the other properties on Post Road West flourish.”

However, he adds, “there are a lot of moving parts in this process, and we are just clearing one hurdle at a time. The EVAD would not commit until we had a site. Thus we took a big risk and purchased the site. We now need zoning approval so our chances to get the EV company can increase significantly.”

Some factors, Ross says, “are beyond our control. The EV company has corporate and legislative hurdles they are working hard to clear. But without the approvals our chances drop to zero.”

The former Dragone property, and its neighbor, on Post Road West.

Ross says that Carvana would be a short-term tenant. 176 PRW is making a business decision “to cover costs, while the EV company works out their challenges.”

Ross has hired a development team to work on the long-term plan, with a “major EV company.”

So there may well be an electric car dealer on Post Road West.

And — according to the P&Z text amendment approved earlier this month — they would clean up the site, contaminated by years of use by regular ol’ gas-powered car dealers.

10 responses to “Electric Car Dealer May Still Move Into Dragone

  1. How temporary can it be if Carvana is going to put in one of their large car vending machines? I can’t imagine that isn’t a large investment.

  2. I have a question relating to previous posts about electric vehicle sales and Connecticut’s regulations regarding dealerships. There is some type of Tesla “facility” (for lack of a better term) on the Post Road in Milford (near the new Shop Rite). I had assumed that it was a dealer, but having read previous posts about Tesla in Connecticut, now I’m confused. Does anyone know what that facility is?

    • A Tesla charging station ..

      • The Tesla facility in Milford is a Service Center. It will also become a sales center when Connecticut finally allows direct to consumer sales.

    • Brian Faucher

      Milford is a service center only. No sales, no showroom. Most Tesla facilities (in other states) have a showroom where people can learn about the cars, test drives available, and usually has an attached service area.

  3. Thomas B Hood Jr

    I support efforts to speed the way to cleanup the Saab/Dragon site and make way for a Tesla dealership. Fairfield county has had job losses at RBS and UBS and GE’s move out of state and our local merchants are pressured by Amazon, and other internet retailers and soon the new mall in Norwalk. A Tesla dealership in Westport would provide great foot traffic for other local businesses, as well as, would serve the ever growing regional demand for clean, efficient cars. Let’s speed the process along for this business with a greater sense of urgency.

  4. I’m confused! The place was a car dealership for 50+ years and 3 different brands: VW, Saab and that short-lived classic car consignment place — so why does it need a P&Z amendment to allow it to be used for electric car sales? Do Westport’s zoning regs distinguish between gas and electric car dealerships? If so, isn’t this an example of regulation run amok?

    • Me too. Very confused.

    • Ditto. Why can’t it continue to operate as a car dealership as-is? Its very sad to see CT trying to keep Tesla out. Its 2018, competition is healthy, lets focus on more important issues!

    • I’m not familiar with the P&Z amendment, but it may be related to the fact that Tesla stores/facilities aren’t “dealerships” owned by a third party as every other car company’s locations are, they are owned by Tesla itself.

      Selling directly to the customer is different than selling through a dealership, car companies aren’t allowed to directly sell to customers per CT law, which is part of the problem for Tesla. In their showroom in Greenwich for example, employees are not allowed to discuss pricing, or assist a customer in configuring/purchasing a car through their website, because that’s illegal. Customers who purchase cars must travel to NY state to take delivery of them, because again, that’s illegal in CT.

      Blame CARA (CT Auto Retailers Association) as they have fought multiple proposed bills to change the law to allow direct sales. The latest attempt is detailed here: https://electrek.co/2018/05/11/tesla-shut-down-connecticut-again-auto-dealers/