Four out of five Connecticut voters support the direct sale of electric vehicles. It’s time to listen to them.
For years, Connecticut has prohibited electric vehicle manufacturers from selling their cars directly to consumers in the state. Ending the prohibition on direct sales will allow us to help the environment while creating new jobs —as it already has in states where direct sales are permitted. The unintentional policy whiplash of incentivizing electric vehicle sales on the one hand, while punishing consumers for exercising their choice to do just that on the other, must finally end. The time has come for our colleagues in the General Assembly to join us in passing Senate Bill 127, An Act Concerning the Sale of Electric Vehicles in the State.
A recent opinion poll conducted by GQR illuminated the depth of support among voters for direct sales, indicating that 83% of regular voters support passage, while only 7 percent totally oppose it. The public hearing in the Transportation Committee yielded similar results: About 89% of those providing testimony on the bill supported it. The only opponents were representatives of the dealerships.
Right now, a typical consumer trying to purchase a popular electric vehicle has to deal with confusion, trips out of state, inefficient use of time and resources — all because of an outdated ban on the direct sale of electric vehicles to consumers in Connecticut.
We say that we have these laws to protect consumers, and that may well have been the case in the early days of auto sales. Now, though, the law is misaligned with the modern state of the economy, and the factors that contribute to the success or failure of electric vehicles.
The companies that are blocked from selling to consumers in Connecticut are offering different electric vehicles than traditional manufacturers, and national auto manufacturers have shown no interest in developing direct-to-consumer channels in recent decades. Electric vehicle makers like Tesla and Rivian choose the direct model specifically to ensure consistency of brand experience from purchase through the product life cycle. Our local franchised dealers care about the same things. What’s wrong with some healthy competition?
Passing S.B. 127 would make our statewide goal of deploying 150,000 EVs on Connecticut roads by 2025 achievable. We currently stand at just over 13,000 EVs in the state, and at this rate, we will run out of time.
We must do better for the people of Connecticut in delivering a fair playing field. It goes against the principles of our economy, and our democratic system to continue to block consumers from buying the vehicles they choose when there is no articulable state purpose, nor tangible benefit achieved for the public. Connecticut isn’t flying blind here; we have the collective experience of states that have allowed EV makers to sell directly to consumers to inform us.
According to annual reports published by the National Automobile Dealers Association in 2012 and 2019, 17 of the top 20 states for overall franchised dealer growth were states that allowed direct sales by electric car manufacturers.
State Sen. Will Haskell, a Democrat, represents Bethel, New Canaan, Redding, Ridgefield, Weston, Westport, and Wilton. State Rep. Tom O’Dea, a Republican, represents New Canaan and Wilton.