Alix Paultre, Editorial Director, PSD
There are moments in history where legacy market forces have conspired to stifle development and growth in the US, and the forces arrayed against Elon Musk and Tesla today are no different. The sad part is that these efforts are damaging to both American technology and market development in both the long and short term. By preventing Tesla to have full and fair access to the market special interests are ensuring America will trail the world in EV development.
Old paradigms and new technology
The clash of technology and legacy special interests isn’t new, and the result of each clash is well-documented in history. Yet we seem to ignore those lessons time and again. A recent example, the near-destruction of the analog watch industry by quartz-based devices, made irony by the fact that quartz oscillator timing technology was invented by the very European companies almost put out of business by the Japanese firms they licensed it to.
Market forces are always touted as true and impartial, but one only needs to look at the multiple states pushing legislation barring Tesla from operating there to see the lie behind that statement. Tesla’s direct-to-customer sales and support paradigm is threatening to do to cars what Dell did to computers, and the legacy vehicle industry is fighting back tooth & nail. For example, the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) is appealing directly to the public through a website and marketing campaign entitled “Get the Facts.” While the campaign never directly mentions Tesla and its direct-sales model, the arguments and actions target Tesla directly.
This activity isn’t going without notice. The International Center for Law & Economics recently sent an open letter to New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, urging reconsideration of the regulation and explaining why the rule is unjustified. According to the Center, “The Motor Vehicle Commission’s regulation was aimed specifically at stopping one company, Tesla Motors, from directly distributing its electric cars… There is no justification on any rational economic or public policy grounds for such a restraint of commerce.” It is sad and frustrating to see a state known for electrical development actively stifling the development of an American car company trying to bring electric cars to the mainstream. Edison would weep.
The flat Earth
This counter-intuitive anti-development activity is also ludicrous in context to what is going on around the world. International competition doesn’t care about the internal struggle in the US, and probably welcome it as America removing itself from the future advanced EV market. Those countries haven’t stopped their development or deployment of advanced electric cars, making our internal fumblings all the more sad and damaging to us. They embrace our energy-robbing squabbling and ridiculous infighting, knowing that the bickering only ensures that America will be their market in the future instead of the other way around.
Tech is not partisan
America has a history of aggressive technology and market development stretching back to its tinker-philosopher founders, and now is not the time to turn our backs on that legacy. America’s entrepreneurs, engineers, and scientists have always been at the forefront of technology and product development, and to block that development is counterproductive to America’s own development and growth.