Michigan’s ludicrous stance against Tesla

May 30, 2016 by Andrew Heller

Because stupid things annoy me, in 2014 I wrote about a law passed (they say clarified) by the state that effectively barred Tesla from selling its electric cars in Michigan. The law says Tesla can’t sell directly to consumers, as it does elsewhere, and must use franchised dealerships like other automakers.

At the time, Daniel Crane, a law professor at the University of Michigan, called it “a real travesty” and “corrupt politics at its worst.”

And I wrote something along the lines of, “You’d think lawmakers would welcome free market competition, not put up barriers preventing it. After all, competition is a good thing, right?”

The answer is yes, it’s good, unless dealership owners – who obviously have a dog in this fight – tell them it’s not good, which is what seems to have happened here.

Flash forward to 2016: Tesla has now applied for a license to open its own dealerships here but once again they appear to have no hope of getting one since, once again, their dealerships wouldn’t be “franchised” – in other words owned by someone else.

Tesla is threatening to take the state to court. If they do, I hope they win not because I have any deep-seated longing for a Tesla – even if I wanted one, I couldn’t afford one – but because the state’s rules are needlessly dumb, and dumb always offends me. People should be able to get what they want, whether it’s peanut butter or automobiles.

I will say, though, that if Michigan, the Big Three and the auto dealers are so afraid of little ‘ol Tesla, there must be a reason.

Well, based on a 20-minute test drive I took recently, there is, especially if you like speed. The model I drove had a “ludicrous” speed mode, which is a nod to a line in one of my all-time favorite movie comedies, “Spaceballs.” (Dark Helmet, played by the epic Rick Moranis, orders his ship to go beyond light speed to ludicrous speed, after which he says, “My brains are going into my feeeet.”) In Tesla’s world,  ludicrous speed lets you go 0 to 60 mph in under three seconds. They could have called it whiplash mode.

It was pretty cool. You should go down to your local Tesla dealership and test drive one.

Oh, wait. You can’t.