Tesla seeks to overturn Louisiana ban on direct car sales

A Tesla logo is seen on a wheel rim during the media day for the auto show in Shanghai, China April 16, 2019. REUTERS/Aly Song

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SAN FRANCISCO, Aug 29 (Reuters) – Tesla Inc (TSLA.O) has filed a lawsuit challenging Louisiana’s refusal to allow the company to sell vehicles directly to consumers, calling the state’s decision American protectionist and anti-competitive.

The case is the latest battle to overturn direct sales bans in some states against the electric car maker, which has bypassed traditional car dealerships. In these states, consumers must travel to neighboring states to secure Tesla vehicles.

Tesla claimed Louisiana officials violated state and federal antitrust laws by banning direct sales since 2017 and trying to restrict the leasing and servicing of its cars in Louisiana.

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“Louisiana consumer freedom is unduly restricted by protectionist, anti-competitive, and ineffective state regulation,” according to the lawsuit, which was filed Friday in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana.

Tesla accused Louisiana dealers, the dealer association and certain members of the Motor Vehicle Commission of participating in an “illegal conspiracy to prohibit Tesla from doing business in Louisiana.”

In 2016, Tesla also sued Michigan over the state’s direct sales ban and reached a settlement in 2020 under which Tesla can have its cars serviced in Michigan through a subsidiary.

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Reporting by Hyunjoo Jin; Editing by Sam Holmes

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