Supporters rally for bill allowing Tesla to sell directly to consumers

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WESTPORT -

Electric vehicle enthusiasts came together in Westport Wednesday for an in-person glimpse of Tesla's new Model 3 car and to rally support for a bill that could allow the company to sell its vehicles directly to consumers.

Tesla's Model 3 has been creating a frenzy in the world of sustainable energy.

Bruce Redman, a Westport resident and the owner of sustainable architecture and development firm, showed off what he says is the first of the Model 3s to arrive in Connecticut.

The car can cost less than $25,000 to drive and is the first in its price range that allows for long-range electric driving, getting 310 miles on a single charge.

The group gathered at Staples High School as George Englehart, a student member of the Green Task Force in Westport, tried to rally fellow students to sign a petition in support of a bill allowing Tesla to sell directly to consumers, rather than through dealerships as required by law.

"There was an antiquated law that was on the books to prevent manufactures from competing with their franchises," Redman says. "But the dealers have used that ban on direct sales to keep Tesla out of the marketplace."

Redman says he had to buy the Model 3 and have it delivered to Mount Kisco, New York for pickup.

Some local officials side with Redman, saying it's time to change the law.

"I recognize that many existing dealerships are concerned that the model that they've invested in over decades is threatened by that," says Westport First Selectman Jim Marpe. "I understand the resistance by existing dealerships to it."

News 12 did not immediately hear back from the Connecticut Automotive Retailers Association, which has been leading the fight against any legislation to change the rules for Tesla, for comment.

The state Legislature has until Feb. 27 to bring up the bill for a vote.

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