Tesla test drive part of effort to change Michigan law: Best car 'ever made'

by Alex Sabad, WZZM-TV Grand Rapids

GRAND RAPIDS, MICH. - The company, Tesla, wants to sell cars directly to customers without a dealership. That's not allowed under current state law. However, new legislation would change that.

Now, there's an effort to give people free Tesla test drives to bring attention to the issue.

On Wednesday, WZZM 13 reporter Alex Shabad and photojournalist Cheryl Barrigear took a test drive. 

In Michigan, you can't buy one, but you can drive one. Our tour guide described Tesla as the fastest accelerating car on the road. 

It's not only speed; the car also slows down quickly.

"That saves on brake pads and maintenance," says Jeff Timmer with the Michigan Freedom to Buy Coalition. 

The coalition is pushing for legislative changes.

"We have this archaic law that prevents them (Tesla) from selling here," Timmer said.

Timmer also showed us Tesla's auto pilot. Camera imaging allows the car to adjust speed based on traffic. If you hit the turn signal, the car changes lanes.

Andy Keller is one of about 400 Tesla owners in Michigan.

"I think it's the best car anyone's ever made ever," Keller said.

There's an ongoing dispute over current Michigan law which does not allow automakers to sell directly to customers.

"It has worked well for many, many years for every manufacturer in the world that has wanted to sell vehicles in the United States and specifically in Michigan," says Terry Burns, executive vice president of the Michigan Automobile Dealers Association. 

"I don't understand if somebody wants to buy a product why the government should decide who they need to buy it from," Keller said.

Timmer says Michigan is one of five states without Tesla sales.

"Michigan risks being the last place on earth you're able to buy one," Timmer said.

Supporters of changing the law say there is currently legislation in a state house committee. They're hoping action will be taken in the fall.