Tesla was in the middle of a three-day Model S test drive program in West Des Moines, Iowa when it was forced to cancel the final day of the event. The local dealers association ratted out the automaker to the state's Department of Transportation because only licensed "dealers" are allowed to offer test drives. Sigh.
The Des Moines Register reports that Tesla began the program on September 9 at a hotel parking lot, but the program was canceled on the third day at the request of the Iowa Department of Transportation.
A 1970 Iowa state law requires all auto dealers to be licensed, and according to Paul Steier, director of the DOT's Bureau of Investigation and Identity Protection, by offering test drives Tesla was acting as a dealer.
Steiner was tipped off about the program by Bruce Anderson, president of the Iowa Automobile Dealers Association, who told the Register that, "You can't just set up in a hotel parking lot and sell cars."
A Tesla spokeswoman said that it didn't believe the automaker was breaking any laws because it wasn't selling cars, just offering test drives. As for the dealers association, they're not stifling competition, they're helping the public.
"It's really a customer protection issue," says Anderson.