Like numerous states, Connecticut has pro-dealership laws that industry groups have used to block competition from Tesla and other brands that prefer direct sales through stores. However, Tesla appears to have found a loophole. According to Electrek, Tesla told a local owner's club that it's now offering leases through its showroom in Milford. The key, the EV maker said, was to only focus on leases. While it still can't sell cars at retail in Connecticut, it is "eligible" for a leasing license.
The move makes it practical to offer test drives and otherwise do more than just explain cars.
The Connecticut Automotive Retaliers Association that protects the dealership model hasn't officially reacted to this move. We've asked it for comment. We wouldn't expect it to be happy, though. This not only lets Tesla clinch car deals in person, it increases the chances of customers making purchases online. There's not much to stop a client discussing a lease, going on a test drive, and then deciding to buy the car through Tesla's website instead.
And Tesla likely knows this. It has tried to circumvent pro-dealership laws for years, and there are even reports of the company planning "Tesla Centers" that would technically focus on energy but sell cars at the same time. Retail leases could not only spur demand for Tesla's cars, but increase pressure on the state to change laws and loosen dealerships' grip on the car sales process.