General Motors, the largest U.S. based automaker, recently released a statement supporting a last-minute addition to Michigan House Bill 5606 that would effectively prohibit Tesla from selling cars in the state of Michigan using its preferred business model, or even providing customers with information about its cars. It’s the classic David-versus-Goliath tale, where Goliath wants the state of Michigan to take away David’s slingshot. How is this possible?
Does General Motors have a Governor in its corporate pocket? Have we forgotten that terrible mismanagement and business practices recently had me witness a bailout of the General? How does this company have the time to thwart the sale of a car that could potentially be one of the greatest success stories in automotive history? If they spent this much time researching its own products, we would never have been plagued by ignition recalls, cookie-cutter cars and the God-forsaken Pontiac Aztek.
A GM spokesperson said about the law, “We believe that House Bill 5606 will help ensure that all automotive manufacturers follow the same rules to operate in the State of Michigan; therefore, we encourage Governor Snyder to sign it.”
This sounds like mob jargon to me. Especially, since this is a re-election year for the good Governor. Had he not signed the bill, he most likely would have had auto dealers across the state down his back and paying for commercials that marred his good name. I call this saving your butt.
Once again, history repeats itself. Lest we forget Preston Tucker, who had safety innovations that were well ahead of their time, was doomed to see his company spiral into the abyss amidst pressure from the competition and corporate implosion. The assets of The Davis Motorcar Company were sold for back taxes in May 1950. The company was on the verge of acquiring a government contract for vehicles, which would have helped to get the company back on track, but alas, rising prices for materials and labor took the company under. John DeLorean, while a seemingly different story, was cleared of drug trafficking charges (which were a result of alleged entrapment). All of this was a final charge to save a company that would file bankruptcy the same year.
I am not saying that all these men were lily-white and sparkling clean. They were probably overly ambitions and under financed. I am not accusing the Big Three of muscling in on upstarts to prevent competition and to protect their interests. I am just very interested in the fact that every time there is an eminent threat to the secure blanket that the triumvirate has provided for itself, that threat ends up being squelched. Why did DeLorean, Davis and Tucker all end up in court to save their companies? Why would one of the world’s biggest corporations prevent a company that truly provides no direct competition for anything in its lineup (other than its premium models, which are at the bottom end of a price gap between themselves and the Tesla)?
I understand the need for fair competition. After all, no one wants to be beaten on their own turf. But I am also well-versed in the Biblical story outlined in 1 Samuel the 17th Chapter. Where a seemingly insurmountable threat is used to keep viable warriors at bay. I see the same here. However, unlike his predecessors, Elon Musk has the talent, the moxie and the means to take on Goliath. I don’t think that Governor Snyder was a big enough stone to defeat David…err, I mean Elon.