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Georgia auto dealers fight Tesla before state judge

Georgia auto dealers faced off against electric car maker Tesla before a state administrative law judge Tuesday, laying out legal arguments over whether the young California company’s business model violates state law.

The Georgia Automobile Dealers Association argues that Tesla isn’t allowed to sell cars direct to consumers and that Georgia law requires it to go through independent franchise car dealers as other manufacturers do. Tesla contends the law doesn’t apply to car makers like it that never had a system of franchise dealers.

“It is not a question of whether Teslas are innovative,” Anne Lewis, an attorney representing the GADA said in a hearing before administrative law judge Michael Malihi. She said if Tesla doesn’t agree with the law, “go the General Assembly and change it.”

That’s just where the fight may be headed. The judge hasn’t yet made a decision, but both sides are girding for the potential that state legislators may settle the issue. GADA has pumped more than $600,000 into the campaign offers of state legislators in recent years.

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