While Michigan will consider other businesses’ approaches on a case-by-case basis, as long as a manufacturer doesn’t have an existing dealer network, it could follow in Tesla’s footsteps, according to Kelly Rossman-McKinney, a spokeswoman for the attorney general.
That’s significant for electric-car upstarts including Rivian Automotive Inc., the truck and SUV maker that raised almost $3 billion last year from the likes of Amazon and Ford Motor Co. The Plymouth, Mich.-based company planning to start selling its R1T pickup and R1S SUV late this year is waging the same costly legal battles state-by-state that Tesla faced in its early days.
“Having settled on these terms with Tesla, it would seem legally very difficult for the state to deny a similar arrangement to any other company situated like Tesla,” Daniel Crane, a University of Michigan law professor who specializes in antitrust and regulatory issues, wrote in a blog post after the settlement was announced.
Rivian declined to comment, as did the Michigan Automobile Dealers Association. Other new entrants planning to sell cars directly to consumers include Lucid Motors, which has said it aims to start production of its Air sedan late this year, and Byton Ltd., which is targeting 2021 for the launch of its M-Byte SUV.
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