We’re fortunate to live in a state that has always led on environmental laws. For instance, Connecticut was the first state in the nation to have a cabinet-level commissioner of the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.
State leaders have been laying the groundwork for broad electric vehicle (EV) adoption since at least 2013, when Connecticut joined what is now a nine-state agreement to deploy 3.3 million zero-emissions vehicles by 2025. Many automakers — from Ford to General Motors to Volkswagen — have plans to bring millions of EVs to market by then, which will make for a cleaner, safer, and healthier environment.
But Connecticut was also a leader in protecting consumers, passing the “Lemon Law” in 1982, one of many measures that ensure car buyers cannot be taken advantage of.
These laws won’t apply to certain high-end EVs that want to sell directly to Connecticut consumers, circumventing the dealer system that operates under state law. Here’s the reality of direct sales: when something goes wrong with your car, it’s you against the manufacturer, with no dealer required by law to help you. That’s what the high-end EV manufacturers don’t want you to consider.
Tesla, Lucid and Rivian can sell their cars in Connecticut — right now — under the same laws that all other auto manufacturers must follow. They can start doing that today, but they choose not to. And they are using environmental claims to deflect from their anti-consumer business model.
That’s like a company that announces it will open a new factory in Connecticut, but only if they don’t have to follow state laws on minimum wage or overtime.
Connecticut’s dealers are essential to the mass adoption of EVs. All Connecticut new auto dealers are fully committed to selling them; Volvo, Audi, Chevrolet, Ford, Mercedes, Nissan and many other manufacturers have electric vehicles on the market right now, and by 2023, the auto industry will have invested more than $250 billion in electrification. With more than 45 options for EVs, and projections for 80 EVs to be on the market soon, Connecticut dealerships make purchasing, servicing, and charging EVs easily accessible for all consumers.
And unlike the EV manufacturers seeking the direct sale model – led by Tesla — Connecticut new car dealers sell EVs intended for everyday consumers. The Chevrolet Bolt, for example, has one of the longest battery ranges and sells for $36,500. The Chevy Bolt and other mainline EVs typically serve as a driver’s primary vehicle, unlike more expensive EV brands which are often a second or third car for a buyer.
Since 2015, Connecticut’s Automotive Retailers Association and the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection have worked together through the CHEAPR program to provide incentives to consumers purchasing EVs. The CHEAPR program now offers incentives specifically for low-to-middle income earners to provide expanded access to electric vehicles.
Connecticut’s car dealers are also assisting the state in the buildout of a robust charging infrastructure and offer universal charging ports that are compatible for any electric car. Dealers across Connecticut are investing millions of dollars in more than 600 charging stations including several super chargers, making the charging process fast and efficient. Many of the chargers at the dealerships are open to the public, whether you purchased your car at that dealership or not, often free of charge. That number will continue to grow this year and next as dealers continue to install more chargers.
The way Connecticut will reach its EV goals under the state’s statutorily mandated greenhouse gas reduction target is with affordable vehicles driven daily by the average working person. Circumventing our consumer protection laws to benefit a few companies whose products are aimed at the highly affluent is not the way to reach our environmental goals.
Hayden Reynolds is owner and general manager of Reynolds Subaru in Lyme. Jeff Aiosa is owner and president of Mercedes-Benz of New London. Paul Garavel is dealer principal of Garavel Chrysler/Jeep/Dodge/Ram