Tesla is set to open its first Connecticut electric vehicle showroom at Mohegan Sun Casino & Resort this fall. According to the casino, the Sales and Delivery Center will be located in the Shops at Mohegan Sun, at a first-floor storefront formerly occupied by a Victoria’s Secret store.
Connecticut’s law requires car manufacturers to sell to dealers, who then sell the vehicles to customers. Because of Tesla’s direct-to-consumer business model, the company had not been able to sell vehicles in the state.
However, with the new showroom at the Mohegan Sun casino, located on Mohegan Tribe’s sovereign land, Tesla will be able to get around the law. Interested customers will be able to see and buy Tesla vehicles at the casino storefront, with the cars being delivered at Mohegan Sun’s Sky Tower valet.
“This endeavor with Tesla marks an electrifying milestone in Mohegan Sun’s commitment to fostering impactful relationships, promoting environmental sustainability, and offering cutting-edge experiences for our millions of annual guests, each of which are core goals of Mohegan Sun and the Mohegan Tribe,” Mohegan Sun President and General Manager Jeff Hamilton said in a news release.
Mohegan Sun President and General Manager Jeff Hamilton
Mohegan Sun, in the press statement, described the storefront as a “first-of-its-kind venture in Connecticut“, noting the Sales & Delivery center will operate on Sovereign Tribal land.
Legislature divided over approval of Tesla bill
For years, Tesla has unsuccessfully tried to get Connecticut lawmakers to legalize direct-to-consumer sales of its electric vehicles. The annual Tesla bill regularly faces opposition, reports CT Examiner, despite heavy lobbying efforts. Connecticut’s car dealers argue that the carve-out would give electric manufacturers an unfair advantage in the market.
The co-chairs of the legislature’s Transportation Committee, State Rep. Roland Lemar, D-New Haven, and State Sen. Christine Cohen, D-Guilford, said that they were supportive of the development in conversation with the aforementioned news source.
“It’s certainly innovative on the part of both Tesla and the tribe to come up with a solution that will bring their cars to market in Connecticut and allow them to distribute here,” Cohen said. “I think in looking at other states where Tesla is able to sell directly, there has been the ability for both the dealership model and direct sales to coexist with each other.”
Lemar, an advocate of the Tesla bill, said the Mohegan Tribe is sovereign and Connecticut cannot tell it how Tesla should sell cars on their own land. He also told CTExaminer that it will be interesting to see if direct sales at Mohegan Sun will change legislators’ minds about the legislation.
He said: “It’s not surprising that Tesla would seek to find another way to provide their cars to Connecticut consumers, now it’ll be interesting whether or not the state as a whole wants to be involved with coming up with a solution because there are other manufacturers out there looking to sell their cars to Connecticut consumers.”