Buyers for vehicles built by Tesla Motors Inc. could soon make purchase reservations at a store in suburban Boston, after municipal officials approved a dealer license for the carmaker. Despite obstructions from local dealers and the Massachusetts State Automobile Dealers Association, the town of Natick's Board of Selectmen finally approved on December 10, 2012, on a 4-1 vote, a Class 1 dealer license for a Tesla location on West Central Street in the Boston suburb.
The store is set to open as soon as possible and will offer consumer test drives of Tesla's electric vehicles. Tesla chief executive Elon Musk tweeted Monday that the approval is "much appreciated!" The dealers association argued against approval of the dealer license at Monday's meeting.
The association's executive vice president, Robert O'Koniewski, expressed disappointment of the approval, saying that they felt that they outlined compelling reasons for the license to not be approved. He added that the association will explore further its next point of action.
The association and some dealers are suing Tesla. They argue that Tesla's stores violate the state's licensing, consumer protection and franchise laws since Massachusetts prohibits factory ownership of dealerships.
However, the Natick board's approval is conditional. Tesla is required to transfer its lease for the West Central Street location to its Massachusetts subsidiary.
Once the store opens, it will become Tesla's second location in Natick, as the carmaker opened a showroom in the Natick Mall in September 2012. However, town zoning regulations prevent Tesla from taking reservations at the location, according to a local newspaper.
In a statement, Tesla said the approval will enable the carmaker to provide the residents of Natick and surrounding areas with a “complete experience” that will take them from initial education and information about electric vehicle to the purchase, delivery and service of Tesla vehicle.