Tesla will move to open Richmond store after DMV win

Tesla has won the right to open and operate its own dealership in Virginia, after the state Department of Motor Vehicles commissioner reversed a ruling from September denying it a license. In his decision, the commissioner cited overwhelming public support, as well as unique sales and service requirements as reasons for his finding that “no dealer independent of Tesla” in proposed store city Richmond is fit to do so correctly.

Tesla’s been fighting for the right to open and run dealerships for its vehicles across the U.S., in what has become a state-by-state battle fought in local courts and regulatory bodies. The Tesla win in Virginia is significant, but it isn’t a total green light; the carmaker still needs approval from the state’s Motor Vehicle Dealer Board — still, all indicators suggest it’s going to be able to open and operate the Richmond location soon.

While the state’s Automobile Dealers Association lobbied to prevent the license being granted, the commissioner noted in his ruling that even by their own admission they would not be able to make money on operating third-party Tesla dealerships given the carmaker’s sale model. The commissioner also cited Tesla’s leading customer satisfaction stores for the quality of its service centers as another reason for granting the license.

Another reason given for allowing the license is the distance prospective Virginia Tesla customers would have to travel to find a store, and then to service one post-purchase. The full text of the decision is embedded below.

A Tesla spokesperson provided the following statement to TechCrunch when contacted:

Tesla applauds the Commissioner’s decision to allow us to open our new store and service center in Richmond, Virginia.

This decision will allow Richmond-area consumers to learn about and purchase their Tesla vehicles in closer proximity to their homes. We are thankful for the many Tesla owners and Virginians for their support.

We intend to swiftly begin construction to open our new store and service center at 9850 West Broad Street and look forward to joining Richmond’s business community.