A number of organizations and people have come out in opposition to the state of Michigan’s recent ousting of Tesla Motors, but one of the most surprising has been Mike Jackson. The CEO of AutoNation called the ban of direct sales in the state “unnecessary protectionism,” shocking quite a few in the automotive industry. His statement is a departure from others associated with car dealers, who have worked hard to get bans like the one in Michigan in place.
Jackson made the shocking remarks during an interview with The Detroit News. His critical views of the controversial law that was recently signed by Rick Snyder included an observation that such laws have been put in place to protect dealer franchises as many automakers have explored how to make the car shopping experience more enjoyable for consumers. Jackson pointed out that Tesla is in a unique position right now, though, because it does not currently have any franchised dealers in the whole world, making it less of a threat to established dealerships.
That means that Jackson is in favor of banning direct vehicle sales, at least for automakers that already have franchised dealers as part of their distribution model. It’s a distinction that some aren’t catching, but is important to understand where Jackson stands.
It’s also vital to understand that the AutoNation CEO thinks Elon Musk is misguided in his ways of going about distributing Teslas. Still, he said that it’s the right of the head of Tesla to go with “an inefficient distribution system.”
Unlike some in the industry, Jackson says that he isn’t the least bit afraid of what Tesla has been doing with direct sales. In fact, he went so far as to say that he expects a phone call from Musk in the not-distant future when Tesla “really wants to sell some cars.” He might be right, considering that Musk has stated recently that franchised dealers might become a reality for Tesla one day.
For those who don’t know, AutoNation has a network of over 220 dealerships and boasts sales of over half a million cars each year.