(TNS) — State and local officials at a ceremony Tuesday lauded the opening of Tesla Motors’ first leasing center in Connecticut.
The electric vehicle maker operated a service center at 881 Boston Post Road for six years, but hadn’t been able to lease any of its cars in Connecticut because of opposition from the state Department of Motor Vehicles. But in December, DMV officials reversed that stance and issued the company the necessary approvals to begin leasing vehicles.
Tesla has been leasing its vehicles from Milford since late December, according to company officials. Prior to that, Connecticut residents wanting to lease a Tesla had to drive to Mount Kisco, N.Y., to do so.
Tim West of Westport, a loyal Tesla owner now on his third vehicle from the company, said his home is equidistant between Mount Kisco and Milford.
“But I prefer coming here because it’s where I’ve been getting my cars serviced,” he said.
Tesla’s presence in Milford has raised the city’s profile in the electric vehicle community around the country, according to Mayor Ben Blake.
“We have more super chargers than any other community in the state,” Blake said, referring to vehicle charge stations with ability to fully charge a vehicle within 30 minutes. “This (the opening of the leasing center) is great news for Milford and the state of Connecticut.”
Victoria Hackett, deputy commissioner in charge of energy at the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, said Tesla “raises the bar for all other electric vehicles.”
“And it makes it (buying electric vehicles) cool for consumers,” Hackett said.
The company spent much of the last decade unsuccessfully trying to change a state law that prohibits the direct sale of vehicles to consumers by manufacturers. State law requires sales through a franchise dealership license, while Tesla’s business model is to sell directly to consumers.
Bruce Becker, president of the Electric Vehicle Club of Connecticut, said allowing Tesla to use its direct-to-consumer sale model will benefit the state’s environment and economy. He said the group is projecting there will be 160,000 electric vehicles registered in Connecticut within five years.
“This is the future,” Becker said. “Electric vehicles are the fastest-growing segment of all car sales.”
As of the end of 2019, there were 11,677 electric vehicles registered in Connecticut, according to Hackett. Of that total, 6,172 are plug-in electric vehicles with the remainder being hybrids, she said.
Growth in the number of electric vehicles on the road in Connecticut can only help state officials in their effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, said Lori Brown, executive director of the Connecticut League of Conservation Voters. Vehicle traffic accounts for about 40 percent of Connecticut’s greenhouse gas emissions, Brown said.
“We applaud Tesla for its persistence in trying to promote electric vehicles in Connecticut,” she said.
©2020 the New Haven Register (New Haven, Conn.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.