Ohio Auto Dealers Fight Tesla Over Sales Model

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Ohio auto dealers are sparring at the Statehouse with California-based automaker Tesla, which is selling next-generation electric cars from three Ohio storefronts.

Ohio is among states proposing to block Tesla direct sales on grounds they undercut traditional auto dealerships. New Jersey officials approved a regulation Tuesday effectively prohibiting automakers from going straight to customers.

Tesla vice president Diarmuid O'Connell visited Ohio legislative leaders that same day to try to discourage them from passing similar restrictions in the state.

He argues the 1,000 vehicles a year Tesla sells in Ohio represent a fraction of the market. He says direct-sales are needed to jumpstart electric-car technology and drive consumer prices down.

Dealers with $2 billion in payroll annually say their businesses can only prosper when the law separates manufacturers and dealers.