US: Tesla could give in and adopt franchised dealers image

Automakers in the United States, unlike other parts of the world, don’t have in-house showrooms, instead relying on a traditional franchised dealers approach. There’s one notable exception though: Tesla.

The California-based electric automaker has begun its journey back in 2010 with the clear intention to reshape the automotive industry. While for the most part it succeeded, there’s one area where it had mixed results: the ongoing domestic battle with the franchised dealers.

Their marketing strategy has targeted ownership of their showrooms, but skirmishes with the dealers associations in many US states and the recent news that even Michigan (the state that houses the motorized capital of the USA – Detroit) could ban its direct-sales practice seems to have finally cracked Tesla’s confidence.

“We may need a hybrid system, with a combination of our own stores and some dealer franchises,” said Tesla Founder and CEO Elon Musk during a recent interview on Autoline Daily.

The mix of factory-owned showrooms and franchised dealers could be the best move from Tesla to circumvent laws in states that openly oppose the direct-sales strategy, such as Michigan and Texas. The move would also address another growing concern for the electric-car startup – how to handle distribution and other processes when you jump from shipping a few thousand cars a month to moving the same number of vehicles in days.