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Tesla’s charging stations aren’t the typical electric vehicle charging station. On average, Tesla’s Superchargers are about 16 times faster than most public charging stations. In fact, Model S owners can get a 50% battery charge in just 20 minutes at a Supercharging station.
Source: Tesla Motors.
Then there’s Tesla’s aggressive expansion of Superchargers to cover 98% of the U.S. population by 2015. Internationally, Tesla just began opening Superchargers in Europe, and already has 90% of the population covered in Norway.
The combination of faster charging speeds, convenient coverage, and exclusivity, not only sets the foundation for Tesla’s planned mass-market car, but it also gives the company a temporary competitive advantage. In a way, it hedges the company’s ambitious aspirations.
A swappable production strategy
This point is rarely brought up in both bullish and bearish Tesla investment theses, but it’s crucial to the company’s business model. Tesla cars are manufactured in a far different manner than traditional vehicles. They have one standard battery platform on which they can mount varying motors and bodies. Even more, Tesla’s motor is a paltry one-foot in diameter. This swappable production strategy could very well give the company an advantage in achieving production efficiencies.
Tesla battery platform. Source: Tesla Motors.
“When we designed the Model S, we created a platform. So it’s not just a single car; we created something on which we could build many cars, and we are able to leverage that and bring a car to market fast,” Musk explained at the Model X unveiling.
Musk has expressed aspirations to eventually achieve gross profit margins that rival Porsche. Before Volkswagen acquired the luxury sports-car maker, Porsche was reporting a gross profit margin of about 50%. Already, Musk says the company should hit its 25% gross profit margin target, excluding zero-emission vehicle credits, by the fourth quarter of 2013.
Thanks to investor optimism for the stock, Tesla’s $20-billion valuation has infused the company with capital to aggressively invest in Superchargers, production, and international expansion. The valuation itself is a strategic asset to the company. Its $20-billion valuation means that management has even more cash than they had planned for to make necessary investments, or even ramp up production and expansion more rapidly.
Securing the future
All three of these factors are building the foundation for the company’s eventual mass-market affordable car. And each factor helps to secure Tesla’s spot among the big automotive companies — and change the auto industry forever.
AB 1534 (Wieckowski)
Vehicles: dealers: used vehicle sales: labeling requirements.
Existing law regulates the accuracy of information provided to consumers during vehicle sales, including the information contained in advertising, brochures, and manuals, as specified.
Existing law also requires manufacturers, as specified, to disclose certain information regarding a vehicles engine, as specified, by affixing a label on the vehicle. A violation of these provisions is an infraction.
This bill requires a licensed dealer, as defined, to affix to and to prominently and conspicuously display a label on any used vehicle offered for retail sale that states the reasonable market value of the vehicle.
The bill requires the label to contain specified information used to determine the vehicles reasonable market value and the date the value was determined.
The bill requires a licensed dealer to provide to a prospective buyer of the used vehicle a copy of any information obtained from a nationally recognized pricing guide that the licensed dealer used to determine the reasonable market value of the vehicle.
The bill requires the label to meet all the following conditions:
a) Be in writing with a heading that reads “REASONABLE
MARKET VALUE OF THIS VEHICLE” in at least 16-point bold
type and text in at least 12-point type.
b) Be located adjacent to the window sticker identifying
the equipment provided with the vehicle, or if none,
located prominently and conspicuously on the vehicle.
c) Contain the information used to determine the reasonable
market value, including, but not limited to, use of a
nationally recognized pricing guide for used vehicles, and
the date the reasonable market value was determined.
d) Indicate that the reasonable market value is being
provided only for comparison shopping and is not the retail
sale price or the advertised price of the vehicle.
The bill defines “nationally recognized pricing guide” as including,
but not limited to, the Kelley Blue Book, Edmunds, the Black
Book, or the National Automobile Dealers’ Association (NADA)
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An estimated nine million Americans have their identities stolen each year. Identity thieves may drain accounts, damage credit, and even put medical treatment at risk. The cost to business — left with unpaid bills racked up by scam artists — can be staggering, too.
The Red Flags Rule1 requires many businesses and organizations to implement a written identity theft prevention program designed to detect the “red flags” of identity theft in their day-to-day operations, take steps to prevent the crime, and mitigate its damage. The bottom line is that a program can help businesses spot suspicious patterns and prevent the costly consequences of identity theft.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) enforces the Red Flags Rule with several other agencies. This article has tips for organizations under FTC jurisdiction to determine whether they need to design an identity theft prevention program.
The Red Flags Rule tells you how to develop, implement, and administer an identity theft prevention program. A program must include four basic elements that create a framework to deal with the threat of identity theft.2
Just getting something down on paper won’t reduce the risk of identity theft. That’s why the Red Flags Rule has requirements on how to incorporate your program into the daily operations of your business. Fortunately, the Rule also gives you the flexibility to design a program appropriate for your company — its size and potential risks of identity theft. While some businesses and organizations may need a comprehensive program to address a high risk of identity theft, a streamlined program may be appropriate for businesses facing a low risk.
Securing the data you collect and maintain about customers is important in reducing identity theft. The Red Flags Rule seeks to prevent identity theft, too, by ensuring that your business or organization is on the lookout for the signs that a crook is using someone else’s information, typically to get products or services from you without paying for them. That’s why it’s important to use a one-two punch in the battle against identity theft: implement data security practices that make it harder for crooks to get access to the personal information they use to open or access accounts, and pay attention to the red flags that suggest that fraud may be afoot.
The Red Flags Rule requires “financial institutions” and some “creditors” to conduct a periodic risk assessment to determine if they have “covered accounts.” The determination isn’t based on the industry or sector, but rather on whether a business’ activities fall within the relevant definitions. A business must implement a written program only if it has covered accounts.
The Red Flags Rule defines a “financial institution” as a state or national bank, a state or federal savings and loan association, a mutual savings bank, a state or federal credit union, or a person that, directly or indirectly, holds a transaction account belonging to a consumer.4 While many financial institutions are under the jurisdiction of the federal bank regulatory agencies or other federal agencies, state-chartered credit unions are one category of financial institution under the FTC’s jurisdiction.
The Red Flags Rule defines “creditor” based on conduct.5
To determine if your business is a creditor under the Red Flags Rule, ask these questions:
Does my business or organization regularly:
If you answer:
Does my business or organization regularly and in the ordinary course of business:
If you answer:
If you conclude that your business or organization is a financial institution or a creditor covered by the Rule, you must determine if you have any “covered accounts,” as the Red Flags Rule defines that term. You’ll need to look at existing accounts and new ones6. Two categories of accounts are covered:
In determining if accounts are covered under the second category, consider how they’re opened and accessed. For example, there may be a reasonably foreseeable risk of identity theft in connection with business accounts that can be accessed remotely — say, through the Internet or the telephone. Your risk analysis must consider any actual incidents of identity theft involving accounts like these.
If you don’t have any covered accounts, you don’t need a written program. But business models and services change. You may acquire covered accounts through changes to your business structure, process, or organization. That’s why it’s good policy and practice to conduct a periodic risk assessment.
What is deemed “regularly and in the ordinary course of business” is specific to individual companies. If you get consumer reports or furnish information to a consumer reporting company regularly and in the ordinary course of your particular business, the Rule applies, even if for others in your industry it isn’t a regular practice or part of the ordinary course of business.
Many companies already have plans and policies to combat identity theft and related fraud. If that’s the case for your business, you’re already on your way to full compliance.
What are “red flags”? They’re the potential patterns, practices, or specific activities indicating the possibility of identity theft.9 Consider:
Risk Factors. Different types of accounts pose different kinds of risk. For example, red flags for deposit accounts may differ from red flags for credit accounts, and those for consumer accounts may differ from those for business accounts. When you are identifying key red flags, think about the types of accounts you offer or maintain; the ways you open covered accounts; how you provide access to those accounts; and what you know about identity theft in your business.
Sources of Red Flags. Consider other sources of information, including the experience of other members of your industry. Technology and criminal techniques change constantly, so it’s important to keep up-to-date on new threats.
Categories of Common Red Flags. Supplement A to the Red Flags Rule lists specific categories of warning signs to consider including in your program. The examples here are one way to think about relevant red flags in the context of your own business.
Sometimes, using identity verification and authentication methods can help you detect red flags. Consider whether your procedures should differ if an identity verification or authentication is taking place in person, by telephone, mail, or online.
You may be using programs to monitor transactions, identify behavior that indicates the possibility of fraud and identity theft, or validate changes of address. If so, incorporate these tools into your program.
When you spot a red flag, be prepared to respond appropriately. Your response will depend on the degree of risk posed. It may need to accommodate other legal obligations, like laws about providing and terminating service.
The Guidelines in the Red Flags Rule offer examples of some appropriate responses, including:
The facts of a particular case may warrant using one of these options, several of them, or another response altogether. Consider whether any aggravating factors raise the risk of identity theft. For example, a recent breach that resulted in unauthorized access to a customer’s account records would call for a stepped-up response because the risk of identity theft rises, too.
The Rule recognizes that new red flags emerge as technology changes or identity thieves change their tactics, and requires periodic updates to your program. Factor in your own experience with identity theft; changes in how identity thieves operate; new methods to detect, prevent, and mitigate identity theft; changes in the accounts you offer; and changes in your business, like mergers, acquisitions, alliances, joint ventures, and arrangements with service providers.
Your Board of Directors — or an appropriate committee of the Board — must approve your initial plan. If you don’t have a board, someone in senior management must approve it. The Board may oversee, develop, implement, and administer the program — or it may designate a senior employee to do the job. Responsibilities include assigning specific responsibility for the program’s implementation, reviewing staff reports about compliance with the Rule, and approving important changes to your program.
The Rule requires that you train relevant staff only as “necessary.” Staff who have taken fraud prevention training may not need to be re-trained. Remember that employees at many levels of your organization can play a key role in identity theft deterrence and detection.
In administering your program, monitor the activities of your service providers. If they’re conducting activities covered by the Rule — for example, opening or managing accounts, billing customers, providing customer service, or collecting debts — they must apply the same standards you would if you were performing the tasks yourself. One way to make sure your service providers are taking reasonable steps is to add a provision to your contracts that they have procedures in place to detect red flags and either report them to you or respond appropriately to prevent or mitigate the crime. Other ways to monitor your service providers include giving them a copy of your program, reviewing the red flag policies, or requiring periodic reports about red flags they have detected and their response.
It’s likely that service providers offer the same services to a number of client companies. As a result, the Guidelines are flexible about service providers using their own programs as long as they meet the requirements of the Rule.
The person responsible for your program should report at least annually to your Board of Directors or a designated senior manager. The report should evaluate how effective your program has been in addressing the risk of identity theft; how you’re monitoring the practices of your service providers; significant incidents of identity theft and your response; and recommendations for major changes to the program.12
1 The Red Flags Rule was issued in 2007 under Section 114 of the Fair and Accurate Credit Transaction Act of 2003 (FACT Act), Pub. L. 108-159, amending the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), 15 U.S.C. ‘ 1681m(e). The Red Flags Rule is published at 16 C.F.R. ‘ 681.1. See also 72 Fed. Reg. at 63,771 (Nov. 9, 2007). You can find the full text athttp://www.ftc.gov/os/fedreg/2007/november/071109redflags.pdf. The preamble B pages 63,718-63,733 — discusses the purpose, intent, and scope of coverage of the Rule. The text of the FTC rule is at pages 63,771-63,774. The Rule includes Guidelines B Appendix A, pages 63,773-63,774 — intended to help businesses develop and maintain a compliance program. The Supplement to the Guidelines — page 63,774 — provides a list of examples of red flags for businesses and organizations to consider incorporating into their program. This guide does not address companies’ obligations under the Address Discrepancy or the Card Issuer Rule, also contained in the Federal Register with the Red Flags Rule.
The Rule was amended in 2010 by the Red Flag Program Clarification Act of 2010, 15 U.S.C. 1681m(e)(4), Pub. L. 111-319, 124 Stat. 3457 (Dec. 18, 2010).
2 “Identity theft” means a fraud committed or attempted using the identifying information of another person without authority. See 16 C.F.R. ‘ 603.2(a). “Identifying information” means “any name or number that may be used, alone or in conjunction with any other information, to identify a specific person, including any —
(1) Name, Social Security number, date of birth, official State or government issued driver’s license or identification number, alien registration number, government passport number, employer or taxpayer identification number;
(2) Unique biometric data, such as fingerprint, voice print, retina or iris image, or other unique physical representation;
(3) Unique electronic identification number, address, or routing code; or
(4) Telecommunication identifying information or access device (as defined in 18 U.S.C. 1029(e)).”
See 16 C.F.R. ‘ 603.2(b).
4 The Rule definition of “financial institution” is found in the FCRA. See 15 U.S.C. ‘ 1681a(t). The term “transaction” is defined in section 19(b) of the Federal Reserve Act. See 12 U.S.C. ‘ 461(b)(1)(C). A “transaction account” is a deposit or account from which owners may make payments or transfers to third parties or others. Transaction accounts include checking accounts, negotiable orders of withdrawal accounts, savings deposits subject to automatic transfers, and share draft accounts.
5 “Creditor” and “credit” are defined in the FCRA, see 15 U.S.C. 1681a(r)(5), by reference to section 702 of the Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA), 15 U.S.C. ‘ 1691a. The ECOA defines “credit” as “the right granted by a creditor to a debtor to defer payment of debt or to incur debts and defer its payment or to purchase property or services and defer payment therefor.” 15 U.S.C. ‘ 1691a(d). The ECOA defines “creditor” as “any person who regularly extends, renews, or continues credit; any person who regularly arranges for the extension, renewal, or continuation of credit; or any assignee of any original creditor who participates in the decision to extend, renew, or continue credit.” 15 U.S.C. ‘ 1691a(e). The term “person” means “a natural person, a corporation, government or governmental subdivision or agency, trust, estate, partnership, cooperative, or association.” 15 U.S.C. ‘ 1691a(f). See also Regulation B. 68 Fed. Reg. 13,161 (Mar. 18, 2003).
The Clarification Act has modified the definition of “creditor” however. For purposes of the Red Flags Rule, a creditor —
“A. means a creditor, as defined in section 702 of the [ECOA], that regularly and in the ordinary course of business—
(i) obtains or uses consumer reports, directly or indirectly, in connection with a credit transaction;
(ii) furnishes information to consumer reporting agencies, as described in section 623 [of the FCRA], in connection with a credit transaction; or
(iii) advances funds to or on behalf of a person, based on an obligation of the person to repay the funds or repayable from specific property pledged by or on behalf of the person;
B. does not include a creditor … that advances funds on behalf of a person for expenses incidental to a service provided by the creditor to that person.”
6 An “account” is a continuing relationship established by a person with a financial institution or creditor to obtain a product or service for personal, family, household, or business purposes. 16 C.F.R. ‘ 681.1(b)(1). An account does not include a one-time transaction involving someone who isn’t your customer, such as a withdrawal from an ATM machine.
10 The verification procedures are set forth in the Customer Identification Programs Rule applicable to banking institutions, 31 C.F.R. ‘ 103.121. This Rule may be a helpful starting point in developing your program.
11 “Authentication in an Internet Banking Environment” (Oct. 2, 2005) available athttp://www.ffiec.gov/pdf/authentication_guidance.pdf.
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The California Court of Appeal has sided with CarMax in a key decision involving the “sales commission” exemption to California’s overtime law. In Areso v. Carmax, Inc., the Court held that a pay plan that had a base payment plus “commissions” of about $150 per vehicle sold satisfied the exemption requirements.
California law has a “commissioned sales” exemption to the general overtime statute. The commissioned sales exemption exempts from the overtime compensation requirement “any employee whose earnings exceed one and one-half (1 1/2) times the minimum wage if more than half of that employee’s compensation represents commissions.” The case revolved around Labor Code 204.1 which permits California car dealers to pay commission wages once a month, an exception to the general requirement that wages be paid not less than twice a month in California. Section 204.1 defines “Commission wages” as “compensation paid to any person for services rendered in the sale of such employer’s property or services and based proportionately upon the amount or value thereof.” The Court wrestled with the question of whether CarMax’s payments to the salesman of about $150 constituted commission wages “based proportionately on the amount or value” of CarMax’s property or services sold.
The employee argued that CarMax’s flat payment made without regard to the price of the vehicle sold did not meet the statutory definition of “commissioned wages,” relying on several cases includingKeyes Motors, Inc. v. Division of Labor Standards Enforcement, 197 Cal. App. 3d 557 (1987) (held: service mechanics not exempt from overtime law). The employee argued that since the flat payment was made without regard to the value of the vehicle sold, it was not a commission. The CarMax Court rejected this contention, finding that there was an alternative prong to the test – the amount (number) of the property or services sold by the employee. The Court further rejected the claim that the flat payment constituted payments for ”piece work,” observing that the employee was engaged in the “sale of property,” consistent with the statutory requirement.
The Court concluded by noting that the employee’s compensation would rise and fall in direct proportion to the number of vehicles sold, and thus satisfying the commissioned sales exemption to the state’s overtime law.
California lawmakers can’t roll back gas prices or revive eight-track tape players, but they soon may offer motorists something else from decades past: replica license plates.
Assembly Bill 1658 would allow the Department of Motor Vehicles to issue plates resembling those of the 1950s, through ’80s for a fee – $50 initially, $40 per year – to cover administrative costs and raise money for environmental projects.
Assemblyman Mike Gatto, a Los Angeles Democrat who proposed the bill, said it capitalizes on nostalgia and recent production of retro-style vehicles. “What’s old is new,” he says, “and it might make the state a little money, too.”
Plates would not be issued by the DMV until 7,500 had been ordered by the public. They would come in three classic designs, with black lettering on a yellow background, or yellow lettering on either a black or blue background.
The new plates would not be exact reproductions, however. Current plates have seven digits, for example, while those of decades past had six. Reflectivity and font-type standards also have changed through the decades.
AB 1658 received bipartisan support in the Assembly Transportation Committee, 14-0, and is awaiting action in the Assembly Appropriations Committee.
Make that “noooobody!”
Norman K. Harris, the one-time owner of Fresno Dodge who was known to most as “Bucky,” died Friday in his sleep at his Fresno home. He was 87.
For more than 40 years, Mr. Harris made his mark in Fresno as a businessman and community leader. But he had barely unpacked his bags after coming to town from Southern California when his public identity changed forever.
Mr. Harris was 43 when, in June 1970, he bought Fresno Dodge Inc. from Sandy Crocket and Max Hessman.
Mr. Harris had no roots in the Valley. He was born in Iowa and had been a top-notch basketball player at Palatine High School near Chicago. He served in the Navy during World War II, got married (Margi, who survives him, was his wife for 64 years), then went to work for Dodge.
But Mr. Harris by the mid-1960s had worked his way up the corporate ladder to be Dodge’s Western area sales manager, so Fresno was no stranger to him.
Selling cars in the Fresno of 1970 was not for the meek. Most dealerships were concentrated in downtown. Fresno Dodge was on Fulton Street. Sierra Chrysler/Plymouth, Dan Day Pontiac and Frontier Chevrolet were a stone’s throw away. Caves Buick and Friendly Ford were a short hop north on Blackstone Avenue.
Dealers fought each other through their advertising. Everyone angled for a branding gimmick to separate their store from the pack. Mack Lazarus in Kerman promised he would “stand on my head” to sell one of his Fords or Ramblers.
If longevity is the yardstick, Mr. Harris came up with the winner. Tall and personable, he stood amid Fresno Dodge’s cars in TV commercials and promised viewers that not a single competitor could beat his bargains.
“Remember,” Mr. Harris said, “that’s nobody but noooobody!”
It took some skill and timing to pull off the “noooobody.” Within a few years Mr. Harris was known as the “nobody but noooobody” man. Then he became “Mr. Nobody.” Finally, in a transformation that shows America’s fondness for nicknames, he became simply Bucky “Nobody” Harris.
Mr. Harris in the mid-1970s said he often received mail addressed to “Mr. Nobody.” Kids tugged his sleeve and insisted he repeat his trademark line. He complied, the only variation being the number of “o”s in the key word’s first syllable.
“I really don’t enjoy making commercials,” Mr. Harris told The Bee in 1974. “It’s a time-consuming thing.”
Mr. Harris had flair to go with his ambition. He added Rolls Royce in 1975 to his dealership’s stable of cars. A business name like “Fresno Dodge-Rolls Royce” probably won’t be seen again.
Mr. Harris in 1989 became the first dealer between Sacramento and Thousand Oaks to sell the Lexus, Toyota’s new luxury car. Mr. Harris promised a few years later to convince Chrysler (owner of Dodge) to send one or two of the automaker’s new Dodge Vipers to Fresno for sale. By early 1993, the first Viper with its 488-cubic-inch, V-10 engine was in town, awaiting seller-buyer negotiations.
Fresno Dodge was sold to Lithia Motors Inc. in 2006. Mr. Harris remained active in business and community affairs.
Fresno and its car-selling industry changed greatly over the past 43 years. Many of the new-car dealerships moved north. Blackstone near downtown remains a center for car sales, but the vehicles generally are trade-ins.
The industry’s one constant is fierce competition.
Mr. Harris some 40 years ago explained why he took the time and effort to make sure Fresno Dodge TV commercials had the perfect “noooobody!” at the end.
“The response,” Mr. Harris said, “has been tremendous.”
Norman K. ‘Bucky’ Harris
Born: Jan. 22, 1926
Died: Sept. 27, 2013
Occupation: Auto dealer
Survivors: Wife Margi Harris; sons Tim and wife Leanne Harris, Bill and wife Susy Harris and John and wife Kina Harris; daughters Patti and husband Mike Carey, Suzy and husband Ben Ewell; 16 grandchildren; and one great-grandchild.
Services: Funeral Mass will be celebrated at 10 a.m. today at Holy Spirit Catholic Church, 355 E. Champlain Drive, Fresno. Donations may be made to Nancy Hinds Hospice or Holy Spirit Catholic Church.
The reporter can be reached at (559) 441-6272 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Read his City Beat blog at news.fresnobeehive.com/city-beat.
Top 5 Issues With Salvage Title Auto Vehicles
Though the price tag can be a real draw, many car buyers have reported a lot of problems when purchasing a salvage title auto vehicle. Here are some of the top concerns drivers should have about trying to get one of these bargains on the road.
Financing – Lots of lenders are wary of financing a salvage title deal because of the unknowns around the vehicle’s real value. Buyers will often have to pay cash up front.
Different State Requirements – Each state has its own rules and regulations for getting salvage title cars street legal. In some states, a state police officer must inspect the vehicle. First time salvage title buyers can often get blindsided with unfamiliar requirements.
Getting Coverage – Some insurers will refuse to cover a salvage title vehicle or jack up the rates, claiming the vehicle is not “roadworthy” or represents a safety risk.
Claim Situations – If a driver does get insurance for a salvage title vehicle, the insurer will probably not pay out much in the case of a claim. They may contend that because of prior damage, the vehicle is not worth much, regardless of how the vehicle looks or what the actual damage is.
Resale – Those who buy salvage title vehicles are hardly ever going to get easy resale value. Most buyers tend to avoid these vehicles because of the above problems.
These are a few of the most major problems with actually making use of a salvage title deal that looked so good on paper. Do your homework before buying to avoid these dicey situations.
Related Questions and Answers
Are there any Laws Against Getting a Rebuildable Salvage Car for Project Car Purposes?
You must show your DMV that you are getting a rebuildable salvage car for project purposes. In other words, you will have to provide to your DMV that the flood-ravaged 2011 Camaro that was floating upside-down in mud and crud-encrusted water is not having its carpeting and padding ripped out. Or, its upholstery swapped so that the vehicle meets the very minimum of the law to be sold as a “new” vehicle. Remember that if you are building a salvage car, you must show proof that the salvage parts you were supposed to have changed, were actually changed.
Are there any Restrictions to Selling a Used Salvage Car?
There are no restrictions to selling a used salvage car, provided that you clear the reason for the salvage restriction in the first place, and rebuild the salvage title into a standard title. The reason for the salvage title could be as little as a precaution on the part of an insurance company that assumed such because one car on a lot was flooded, all the cars would be flooded. Therefore, it should be totaled and sent into the salvage market. However, there are salvage titles where you must show proof that the damage that led to the salvage marking in the first place has been cleaned and replaced. You must prove this beyond the shadow of a doubt for your DMV and insurance company.
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Months after the confusing announcement of Tesla’s lease-like financing program, the electric vehicle maker could face an advertisement probe that has been requested by the California New Car Dealers Association,Automotive News reports, which claims that consumers are being mislead by advertised monthly payments that are lower than what most people would experience.
The ordeal can be traced back to April 2, when Tesla made an announcement specifying tiered monthly payments for the three versions of the Model S assuming a 66-month term. But then Tesla revised the numbers upward overnight because, it claimed, it meant to say it offered a 63-month finance term, not a 66-month term. The automaker also claimed that factoring in the “true cost of ownership” of a Model S compared to a conventional fuel-burning car could drive monthly costs to below $500.
In May, it added an available finance term of 72 months, which, factoring in only gasoline savings, the company said could lower monthly payments to $580. But the underlying issue at hand is that the means which can potentially lower monthly payments from $1,000+ dollars (depending on the model) to under $600 can’t be realized by the majority of Americans, the CNCDA says.
Tesla provides an online calculator that does the payment math for you. It takes into account the $7,500 federal incentive and $2,500 California incentive (state incentives differ) for EVs, what your time is worth, how much time and money are saved away from the gas station, shortened commuting time with carpool lane access (in participating states), and even business tax benefits. But the “packed external incentives,” as the dealer association calls them, don’t apply to everybody. Most people can’t realize monthly payments below $500 unless they have the right mix of true-cost-of-ownership deductions. CNCDA also claims that only 20-percent of Americans can claim the full $7,500 federal incentive, which is based on findings by the Congressional Budget Office, according to Automotive News.
Brian Maas, president of the dealer association, sees Tesla’s advertisement strategy in this way: “It’s misleading. If you checked every box on their true cost of ownership series of inquiries, they claim you can get a Model S for $114 a month, which is lower than the cheapest [new] car available in the United States, the Nissan Versa – which would cost you, with a lease deal, about $139 a month,” Automotive News reports.
This week, a trade group representing California’s new-car dealers urged the state Department of Motor Vehicles to launch an investigation into the way that Tesla Motors (TSLA) markets its all-electric Model S sedan, arguing that the Palo Alto-based company inflates the benefits of its financing option on its website.
But Tesla is fighting back, saying Thursday that the complaint, which Tesla says is without merit, needs to be viewed in a broader, national context: Car dealer associations across the country are trying to block Tesla’s progress, as the Palo Alto-based company takes market share from other brands.
Major automakers sell their cars through franchised dealerships; Tesla sells the Model S directly to consumers through its own stores. That’s earned Tesla the wrath of dealers, who have succeeded in barring Tesla from selling directly to consumers in Texas.
“There are state dealer associations in all 50 states, and a national dealer’s association. They would have you believe there is no coordinated activity,” Diarmuid O’Connell, Tesla’s vice president of business and corporate development, said in an interview Wednesday. “It’s incredible to believe that in all the conference calls that there isn’t a coordinated effort to retard our progress either in selling directly to consumers or slowing our sales. We are taking market share away from other brands in the California market. I believe there is coordinated activity.”
Denying the charge, Charles Cyrill, a spokesman for the National Automobile Dealers Association, said Wednesday that “this is a state issue that is being debated in the states.”
The California New Car Dealers Association, which represents 1,100 new car and truck dealers, in a nine-page letter Monday asked the state DMV to look at Tesla’s advertising practices.
Its claims about the monthly finance payment for the Model S “is both misleading and illegal,” Brian Maas, president of the California New Car Dealers Association, said in a statement.
Tesla does not advertise in the traditional sense, but has a self-service calculator on its website where consumers can enter information about how valuable their time is and the length of their commute.
Jan Mendoza, a representative for the California DMV, said Wednesday that the agency “receives complaints from the public and other entities and may investigate issues under its legal authority if warranted.”
The state dealers association’s August newsletter included sales figures through June 2013 that show that Tesla sold
Tesla sold 12,351 Model S sedans through August; California is thought to account for roughly half of all sales.
Contact Dana Hull at 408-920-2706. Follow her at Twitter.com/danahull.