Tesla Model S in a store

Tesla has just dodged another bullet -- well, sort of. Just days after New Jersey overturned a ban on direct car sales, New York has enacted a law that lets Tesla continue selling cars through its stores in the states. As with similar laws in other regions, though, there are strings attached. In keeping with an agreement forged back in March, the EV maker can only pursue direct sales through its existing five stores; beyond that, it has to go through dealerships.

New York's government argues that the arrangement strikes a balance where "both sides will thrive." However, it's not quite that rosy. History suggests that Tesla risked losing direct retail sales entirely if it didn't forge some kind of pact -- this was more about saving the automaker's skin than creating equal opportunities. Unless there's a change of heart (or the FTC steps in), conventional dealers still have the upper hand.

[Image credit: AP Photo/Al Behrman]

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