Ohio auto dealers fight Tesla over sales model

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Ohio auto dealers are sparring at the Statehouse with California-based automaker Tesla, which is selling next-generation electric cars from three Ohio storefronts.

Ohio is among states proposing to block Tesla direct sales on grounds they undercut traditional auto dealerships. New Jersey officials approved a regulation Tuesday effectively prohibiting automakers from going straight to customers.

Tesla vice president Diarmuid (DEER'-mihd) O'Connell visited Ohio legislative leaders that same day to try to discourage them from passing similar restrictions in the state.

He argues the 1,000 vehicles a year Tesla sells in Ohio represent a fraction of the market. He says direct-sales are needed to jumpstart electric-car technology and drive consumer prices down.

Dealers with $2 billion in payroll annually say their businesses can only prosper when the law separates manufacturers and dealers.