Lucid Motors, Rivian, Tesla, EV Club of CT, and franchised car dealerships discuss bill SB 127 to permit direct sales of EVs in Connecticut

Posted by Paul Braren on Feb 20 2021 (updated on Mar 3 2021) in
  • Efficiency
  • EVs
  • Tesla
  • General-Assembly
    Connecticut State Capitol picture from my speaker confirmation email.

    Summary - see and hear for yourself how this Feb 19 2021 public hearing went, in the video gallery below featuring Automakers, Legislature, EVClub of CT, and Gas Stations. Dealerships are listed here.

    Photo by Paul Braren on Jan 18 2021 at DEEP in Hartford, Connecticut.

    While I've been inside the beautiful Connecticut State Capitol building - once as a kid for a tour, and more recently as an IT Professional installing computer equipment - this wasn't going to be the year for going onsite. When I was asked to give written and maybe even public testimony about my ownership experience with 2 EVs, it was as simple as emailing it in. The confirmation email and unique-to-me Zoom link arrived at 4:02 pm the evening before the event. So the pressure was on. Let's go back a bit to understand why.


    My previous car was a new 2006 Honda Civic Hybrid that I bought right in Hartford, Connecticut. Hybrids had no state tax back then, essentially giving me about $2000 off. Flash forward to 2018, when I ordered my first all electric car, the Tesla Model 3. I quickly learned I had to pick it up in Mt. Kisco, New York. State of Connecticut sales taxes were also collected, and it was deemed too expensive to qualify for any state rebates like CHEAPR. Could it be that my state's incentives to go green were actually going in reverse?

    What does it convey about our state that the top company that engineering students want to work for is not even allowed to sell their products here?

    I love Connecticut, see also my homage to Wethersfield, but I'm well aware that change is sometimes sorely needed.


    Reading tea leaves for signs of intent is what people do. What's Connecticut's intent? For example, years ago, I spied those spiffy and inspiring Massachusetts EV plates when working near Boston. Why doesn't Connecticut have those?

    It's time for change. It was also time for me to learn a little more about how state government actually works.

    About the hearing

    “8 Club Members Go To Hartford” over 2 years ago, a lot has changed since then.

    In the past, public hearings like this would mean that concerned citizens and EV Club of CT members, dealers, and out-of-state auto makers would get to the State Capitol bright and early, advocating for faster adoption of EVs in our state. This time around, the transportation committee opened this live-streamed Zoom meeting to any state resident, dealer, or manufacturer who pre-registered, even me. The topic was SB 127 – Permits Direct Sales of EVs.


    I was nervous when my turn came up at the end of the day, and it showed. But the fun part for me was learning from how well others presented, cordially sticking within their 3 minutes, followed by up to five minutes of surprisingly active Q&A afterward.

    What's at stake here, and why do we care?

    You can't take delivery of a Tesla in Connecticut. No showrooms or stores either, only service.

    Same goes for Lucid Motors and Rivian too.


    But that's not all, Michael Liebow explains in this article excerpt:

    The ICE market crash is coming along with the franchise model. It’s the point when residuals plummet. Compared to Norway with a pop of 5.3 million, 50% EV share or 347k registered. CT has pop of 3.5 million and only 14k registered. We need to reduce friction and encourage change
    Going to any surrounding State to buy an EV is inconvenient but not the end of the world. Being viewed as a laggard, a holdout while the rest of the country sheds a 100-yr old model, that’s the real problem. Send the right message. Lead.

    I encourage you to read the whole thread, pictured at right.

    It was members of the EV Club of CT that helped raise EV manufacturers' awareness of this bill:

    • Proposed S.B. No. 127 | Session Year 2021 |
      To permit electric vehicle manufacturers to sell electric vehicles directly to the consumer.

      General Assembly Proposed Bill No. 127
      January Session, 2021

      Referred to Committee on TRANSPORTATION

      Introduced by:
      SEN. HASKELL, 26th Dist.
      REP. STEINBERG, 136th Dist.


      Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General
      Assembly convened:
      1 That title 14 of the general statutes be amended to permit the
      2 Commissioner of Motor Vehicles to issue a new or used car dealer's
      3 license to an electric vehicle manufacturer, provided such manufacturer
      4 does not have a franchise agreement with any new car dealer in the
      5 state, manufactures only electric vehicles and demonstrates a
      6 sustainable business model for providing service and repairs to such
      7 electric vehicles.

      Statement of Purpose:
      To permit electric vehicle manufacturers to sell electric vehicles directly
      to the consumer.
      LCO No. 259 1 of 2


    There's only a few states left like Connecticut that prohibit direct sales, requiring a franchise in the middle. There's a great Wikipedia entry that explains, with more to this drawn-out saga exposed in journalist David Pogue’s Why you can't buy a Tesla in these states:

    Connecticut has considered letting Tesla enter the state every legislative session since 2014; each time, Fleming has successfully shut the effort down.
    That’s right. In some states, Tesla is not allowed to open dealerships.

    I live in one of them: Connecticut. Two years ago, I added myself to the waiting list for the Tesla Model 3. This summer, I finally picked it up—in New York. As I drove it back home over the state border, I wondered why Connecticut would want to hand over all the sales tax I just paid to a rival state.

    It's a good sign that all three direct-sales EV companies - Lucid Motors, Rivian, Tesla - were well-prepared and well-spoken, patiently staying the whole day to hear out the many business owners and citizens, like myself.

    This is not just a “Tesla bill” anymore, it’s an EV bill.

    President of the EV Club of CT Barry Kresch summarized the day:

    Of the 76 written comments and a full day of Zoom testimony, every consumer that testified was in favor of passing this bill.

    That said, dealership interests are powerful, so who knows how this will turn out. We'll have to wait and see.

    Arguments and FUD

    Click/tap to view Acadia study - "Direct Sales of Electric Vehicles in Connecticut Connecticut is debating whether to allow the direct sales of electric vehicles [EVs] by manufacturers, but concerns have been raised about potential impacts to employment at existing car dealerships. Acadia Center examined auto dealer employment statistics for nearby states that allow direct sales, and the results indicate that there has been no negative impact on this industry’s job levels or trends."

    One argument that popped up was about jobs, see also this detailed study:

    Acadia Center examined auto dealer employment statistics for nearby states that allow direct sales, and the results indicate that there has been no negative impact on this industry’s job levels or trends.

    Tesla has a Service Center in Milford CT, so it seems Lucid Motors and Rivian would want to build service center(s) here too. Prompt service and collision repairs are crucial to improving the ownership experience for any car, things happen no matter what or how you drive.

    Predictably, there was some FUD-slinging during the course of the proceedings. Polite EV owners later chimed in and politely corrected most of the misinformation. For example, Connecticut sales tax is still very much collected when Connecticut buyers get their Teslas in NY, see for yourself, I published our family's delivery papers in this article, showing the 6.35% CT Sales Tax paid..

    Photo by Paul Braren on Oct 22 2020, Old Wethersfield, Connecticut.
    Photo by Paul Braren on Sep 05 2020, Mount Washington Summit, New Hampshire. Half of the energy used going up was used to automatically recharge us on the way down using regenerative braking.

    The world has changed in the 2 years since a similar bill was proposed:

    1. We heard that every year, more and more constituents let their lawmakers know they want to get their EVs in state.
    2. Safe, touchless deliveries were mastered quickly by Tesla, the only US car maker whose sales grew in 2020
    3. Tesla is no longer hovering anywhere near the brink of bankruptcy, that argument is long gone
    4. More no-franchise car dealership businesses are poised to start delivering vehicles this year, such as the Lucid Air and the Rivian R1T pickup truck.
    5. Franchised traditional dealerships are now delivering Ford Mustang Mach-E and VW ID.4, admittedly in limited numbers while production ramps up, and sometimes at elevated prices while demand far exceeds supply.
    6. Nearly all major automotive manufacturers have announced that they are going all in on EVs, and a few have started delivering in volume.
    7. The age of practical EVs with long ranges has arrived.

    Another argument was about franchise dealership's freedom to set prices locally. Lucid, Rivian, and Tesla set prices, and will compete with one another on price and service on a national level. The buyer orders online with no haggling. How many millennials do you know that would just love to argue over the price of one of their biggest purchases?

    There were also discussions around maintenance. As several speakers pointed out, EVs don't need as much maintenance. This is not a Tesla thing, it's an EV thing. A new reality that traditional dealers will need to adapt to.

    Enough of my words, have a listen for yourself, with a wide variety of perspectives.



    I've created a video library of all the key clips that relate to this article.


    Listed in the order they appeared. The transcripts I created below each video are just excerpts, I encourage you to listen to the full 3 minutes of each segment.

    Lucid Motors

    Daniel Witt, Public Policy Lead at Lucid Motors. Click/tap to start YouTube video playback at 5h 13m 53s.


    I would submit we need not speculate as some have done about the potential ramifications of enacting this law in Connecticut. We can say with certainty that it has resulted in millions of additional dollars of investment and taxes in retail and service locations, as well as the hiring of hundreds of retail and service technicians. And, equally important, more choices for consumers. All without having a detrimental impact on existing franchise dealers or their contractual relationships with the manufacturers that they currently represent. These are the facts, this is not a zero-sum game. It is a net win for consumers and the state.


    Dan West, Director of Public Policy at Rivian. Click/tap to start YouTube video playback at 6h 39m 30s.


    Allowing direct sales of EVs is the most effective, budget neutral, and market friendly way to accelerate EV adoption. States that allow direct sales have higher EV adoption rates than states with direct sales prohibitions, even in the absence of other incentives. Beyond meeting the state's EV goals, direct sales will bring in new investment from companies like Rivian to hire local contractors construction workers to design and build retail locations. We would also hire local staff, invest in and become part of the community, and pay taxes. Current law deters these investments...


    Zachary Kahn, Senior Policy Advisor at Tesla. Click/tap to start YouTube video playback at 1h 29m 40s.


    Our mission is to accelerate the world's transition to sustainable energy ... The transportation sector is the largest emitter of greenhouse gasses in the state ... Most recently, Connecticut is one of only 3 states along with the District of Columbia to join the transportation climate initiative program, this was an extraordinary display of leadership and commitment to goal of reducing transportation emissions. This bold policy choice further highlights how out of step the current ban on direct sales from EV manufacturers is with the state's transportation policy goals. The data is clear, making it easier to buy EVs is a key driver of adoption.


    Will Haskell

    Sen. Will Haskell, 26th Dist. Click/tap to start YouTube video playback at 2h 30m 17s.

    This bill is designed to accelerate electric vehicle adoption by increasing buyer choice. It would welcome a new generation of electric vehicle manufacturers who don't necessarily have that existing franchise dealer relationship in Connecticut.



    Listed in the order they appeared.

    Analiese Paik

    Analiese Paik, Leadership Team of EV Club of CT. Click/tap to start YouTube video playback at 5h 35m 40s.

    There's actually growth in sales when you allow competition, when you allow direct to consumer sales.

    Analiese then shared a negative Nissan Leaf service experience and a positive Tesla service experiences, and many other very helpful stories and clarifications.

    Paul Braren

    Paul Braren, Wethersfield Connecticut resident, Leadership Team of EV Club of CT. Click/tap to start YouTube video playback at 6h 52m 02s.

    ... We’re also thankful for the $7500 federal tax credit, and Connecticut’s CHEAPR rebate for $1500, that together made each of these stretch purchases possible for us these past 2 years. I publish a lot about the experiencing of driving these EVs over 40,000 miles, from Canada to DC, mostly for my day job in IT, by far the safest and least cost per mile 4 door sedan choice in the entire automotive market. In my blog, readers first learned about 3rd generation Superchargers, and Tesla picked Connecticut as the first location anywhere in the entire Northeastern US
    Connecticut’s unfortunate stance is only going to get more pronounced as the very promising Rivian and Lucid Motors try to come to market this year, and the optics of Connecticut being so far behind all its northeastern neighbors aren’t good, especially in this age of increasingly influential social media.

    Allowing innovative new companies into the state brings investment and youth into the state. These are forward-looking, environmentally-friendly businesses.

    Barry Kresch

    Barry Kresch, President of EV Club of Connecticut. Click/tap to start YouTube video playback at 7h 10m 46s.

    Our club supports all EVs. We also support innovation, putting consumers first, and accelerating the rate of EV adoption in the state. SB 127 checks all these boxes.
    The police department in Westport bought a Model 3 which they fully customized for law enforcement, which had to be developed from scratch for the Tesla. The car has been a big hit, and they've received hundreds of inquiries from around the world. The two companies that did this work see a big potential market, and they're Connecticut companies, one is in Chester, the other is in West Haven.

    I learned of Fleet Auto Supply of West Haven, CT and Whelen Engineering of Chester, CT when researching my article about Westport Connecticut's Tesla Police car. Also interesting that
    Westchester County's Hastings-on-Hudson Police Department's new Tesla Model Y was outfitted at Whelen in Connecticut too.


    Michael Frisbee

    Michael Frisbie, Noble Energy Real Estate Holdings. Click/tap to start YouTube video playback at 4h 17m 7s.

    ... what I'm trying to create is build a facility that allows customers to come on property for more than just gas or more than just charging your electric vehicle.

    This is great! On a related note, I've frequently shared my enthusiasm for the convenience of combined convenience store / EV charging, as seen at Sheetz and Wawa, and I had a little fun with Cumberland Farms too.



    My Written Testimonial

    Unedited submission pasted below:

    From: Paul Braren
    Sent: Thursday, February 18, 2021 5:27 PM
    Subject: Transportation Pubic Hearing 2/19/21 - Testimony on SB 127 by Paul Braren of Wethersfield, CT

    I support SB 127, for direct sales of EVs in Connecticut.

    It will speed the adoption of EVs here, improve the air we breathe, and maybe even make it possible for our small state to meet the goals of the “Electric Vehicle Roadmap for Connecticut” and “Southern New England’s Transportation and Climate Initiative Program”.

    It’s not a good look for CT, being one of very few states remaining where citizens can’t purchase the far-and-away best-selling EVs in the US, made by Tesla in California. They’re far ahead of the rest of the auto industry in meaningfully accelerating the transition to sustainable energy, have passed sales of 1 million EVs last year, are trending toward lowered prices, and are growing production at a rate of 50% per year on average. They’re the only US car company whose sales increased in 2020. Yet, you still can’t get one here.

    Connecticut’s unfortunate stance is only going to get more pronounced as the very promising Rivian and Lucid Motors join Tesla in trying to sell and service EVs here too, only to soon realize how hostile our business environment is to their direct sales. The optics of behind on this aren’t good.

    Like any industry, the EV industry needs healthy competition to accelerate its growth and offer consumer’s more choices. Allowing innovative new companies into the state brings investment and youth into the state. These are forward-looking, environmentally-friendly businesses.

    Thank you for your time and consideration.

    Paul Braren
    Founder of, LLC
    VMware VCP 2681 in 2005, vExpert since 2014
    @paulbraren | LinkedIn
    TinkerTry IT @home. Efficiency, virtualization, storage, backup and more.

    Feb 20 2021 Updates

    Yesterday, Rivian sent Connecticut's reservation holders the following letter. I redacted the name, email address, and some URLs.


    From: Rivian <REDACTED>
    Date: February 19, 2021 at 7:32:39 PM EST
    To: <REDACTED>
    Subject: Working together toward EV ownership in Connecticut.
    Reply-To: Rivian <REDACTED>

    Dear Rivian Community Member,

    Help us ensure your right to buy and take delivery of electric vehicles in Connecticut!

    EV enthusiasts in Connecticut are rallying around SB 127, a bill that would enable Rivian to make vehicle sales directly to customers.

    This bill’s passage means that electric vehicle companies like Rivian will be able to obtain a state dealer license directly. Without this legislation, Rivian and other EV manufacturers won’t be able to open retail sites, offer test drives, or sell directly to consumers. Don’t worry – whether or not this legislation passes, you’ll be able to buy and take delivery of your Rivian! The success of SB 127 simply protects your rights to learn about and purchase EVs in your home state.

    Connecticut’s dealer associations oppose this bill. We’re asking that you and the broader EV community make your support for SB 127 known.

    Here’s how you can help:

    Earlier today, there was a hearing on SB 127. Rivian, other industry members, and interest groups all testified in favor. Please lend your voice by urging your representatives to advance this legislation. The easiest and most effective way to have your voice heard is to email your representative telling them you support this bill.

    Click here to find your representative and email or call saying that you support holding a vote and passing SB 127. If you’re sending an email, please also include Roland Lemar, the Chair of the Transportation Committee, as a recipient. Email:

    To learn more about the benefits of direct sales, please read this blog post by the EV Club of Connecticut.

    Thank you for helping us keep the world adventurous forever.

    Team Rivian

    See also at TinkerTry




    See also


    • Rivian Alerts Reservation Holders in CT, Urges Support of SB 127
      Feb 20 2021 by EV Club of CT

      Rivian mobilizes reservation holders for support
      For those holding reservations for an electric pickup truck or SUV from new EV-exclusive manufacturer Rivian, where and how they will get possession of their vehicle when deliveries begin later this year remains unknown.

    • SB 127 Direct Sales Bill Public Hearings Held on 2/19
      Feb 20 2021 by EV Club of CT

      A virtual public hearing was held yesterday by the legislature for this bill. Both written and oral comments were solicited.

      Of the 76 written comments and a full day of Zoom testimony, every consumer that testified was in favor of passing this bill. It is still opposed by dealerships and the OEMs. Nothing has changed.
      It is difficult to read the tea leaves ...

    • It Is Time for EV Freedom
      Jan 08 2021 by Barry Kresch at EV Club of CT

      Governor Lamont has signed onto the Transportation Climate Initiative (TCI), a regional cap and invest plan. At the same time, the state is falling behind the goals set forth in the Multi-State Zero Emission Vehicle Action Plan. The time has come to permit direct sales of EVs in CT.



    • Electric Vehicle Roadmap for Connecticut

      Executive Summary
      The Electric Vehicle Roadmap for Connecticut (EV Roadmap) represents a comprehensive strategy for accelerating the deployment of electric vehicles (EVs) through policies and regulatory tools addressing transportation equity, purchasing incentives, consumer education, charging infrastructure expansion, consumer protection, integration of EVs into the electric grid, utility investment, and utility rate design.

    • Transportation and Climate Initiative (TCI)

      About Us
      The Transportation and Climate Initiative (TCI) is a regional collaboration of 12 Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states and the District of Columbia that seeks to improve transportation, develop the clean energy economy and reduce carbon emissions from the transportation sector. The participating states are: Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Virginia.

      The initiative builds on the region's strong leadership and commitment to energy efficiency and clean energy issues, and its programs to reduce carbon emissions in the power sector, which have resulted in the region becoming one of the most energy efficient areas in the nation. At the same time, the effort underscores the sense of urgency shared by all 13 jurisdictions, and their collective aspirations to become the leading region for sustainability and clean energy deployment in the country.

      Recognizing that more than one third of all carbon emissions come from the transportation sector, participating states started taking action through working groups focused on regional priorities, such as clean vehicles and fuels. Several TCI states are also now working together to explore potential regional policies to improve transportation systems and reduce pollution.

    Speaker Order Text, for easy search/reference:

                          Transportation Pubic Hearing 2/19/21              
                                  Speaker Order             
                                February 19, 2021
    Order First Name Last Name  Organization                            Job Title
    1   Kevin Dillon     Connecticut Airport Authority                Executive Director
    2   John Henshaw & Johnson & david Kooris   Connecticut             Port Authority  "Executive Director & board member"
    3   Kevin Kelly           Senate Republicans                          Senate Republican Leader
    4   Will Haskell         State Senator, 26th District   
    5   Jason Rentkowicz      New Haven Police Department                   Lieutenant
    6   Harry Arora           CGA                                         State Rep
    7   Sen. Paul Formica   CGA                                           Senator
    8   Al Paolillo         Connecticut General Assembly                  State Representative
    9   Michael Passero       City of New London                            Mayor
    10  Anthony Nolan       Connecticut General Assembly                  State Representative
    11  Keith Hedrick     City of Groton                                Mayor
    12  Matthew Lesser    CGA                                         State Senator
    13  Zachary Kahn        Tesla                                       Senior Policy Advisor
    14  Greg Allard       Association of CT Ambulance Providers       President
    15  Jeff Hugabonne    Connecticut Broadcasters Association" 
    16  Jeff Aiosa        Connecticut Automotive Retailers Association" Legislative Co-Chair
    17  Terry Poley     
    18  Karl Jacobson       New Haven Police Department                 Assistant Chief
    19  Chrissy Monaco    Monaco Ford                                 Co-Owner
    20  Rob Glaspy  CAPE    
    21  Samantha Dynowski Sierra Club CT                                State Director
    22  William Hughes    Retired   
    23  Michael Frisbie   Noble Energy Real Estate Holdings           Owner
    24  Zell Steever        Groton Resiliency and Sustainability Task Force Chairman
    25  James Furlong       Groton Conservation Advocates                 Writer
    26  Christopher Regan Sr        
    27  Steve Taranko       
    28  Charles Rothenberger Save the Sound Climate & Energy Attorney
    29  Peter Jones         None                                          Retired
    30  Kim Curtin        Curtin Transportation                         Owner
    31  Debbie DiAngelo     
    32  Daniel Witt         Lucid Motors                                  Public Policy Lead
    33  Michael Liebow      
    34  Analiese Paik       
    35  Anthony LaPenta     
    36  Sandy Duffy     
    37  Hayden Reynolds     Reynolds Subaru 
    38  Dan West            Rivian                                      Director of Public Policy
    39  Christopher Fryxell Associated Builders & Contractors President
    40  Seth Totten     
    41  Yvette Sanchez    Gengras Motor Cars    
    42  Paul Garavel        Garavel Chrysler, Jeep Dodge RAM            President
    43  Paul Braren, LLC  "Efficiency-themed blogger & videographer"
    44  Wayne Weikel        Alliance for Automotive Innovation          Senior Director
    45  Frank Gasparro    Hamden Hall Country Day School
    46  David Fay           The Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts President and CEO
    47  Katherine Stainken  Plug In America                             Policy Director
    48  Suzanne Ellery    Pfizer, Inc                                 Site Affairs Lead
    49  Aetna Ambulance Service Mara    Aetna Ambulance Service         EMT Supervisor Aetna Ambulance Service
    50  JAMES FEEHAN        NEFEA                                       President
    51  Clifton Vachon      
    52  Rahul Shah      
    53  Barry Kresch        EV Club of CT                               President
    54  Chip Gengras        Gengras Motor Cars