Iowa shakes fist, tells Tesla to get off its property

Iowa has told Tesla to hit the road – and not in the good way. The Iowa Department of Transportation cut short a planned series of test drives in West Des Moines earlier this month.

Robert Galbraith/Reuters/File
A Tesla Motors logo is shown on a Tesla Model S at a Tesla Motors dealership at Corte Madera Village, an outdoor retail mall, in Corte Madera, Calif

Iowa has told Tesla to hit the road -- and not in the good way. According to the Des Moines Register, the state's Department of Transportation told Tesla to pack its bags and cut short a planned series of test drives in West Des Moines earlier this month.

Why would the DOT do such a thing? Because the Iowa Automobile Dealers Association complained. (No surprise there.)

More importantly, how could the DOT do such a thing? Because, the agency says that by offering test drives in the parking lot of a West Des Moines Mariott, Tesla was acting as a dealer. (Confused? Tesla doesn't understand the logic either.) Since dealers have to be licensed in Iowa, and since Tesla has no such license, the DOT shut the party down.


There's bad news and good news here.

The bad news, of course, is that Tesla fans in Iowa now have to travel out of state to test drive the company's Model S sedan. That's a pain for consumers and a loss of tax dollars for Iowa.

It's also bad news for dealers, because it worsens their already abysmal image. Dealer networks have proven that they're terrible at giving consumers what they want, and this only make them seem more tone-deaf and protectionist.

As if to illustrate that point, the Register cites Bruce Anderson, president of the Iowa Automobile Dealers Association. He complains that buying a car directly from an automaker like Tesla would be like buying a laptop directly from Apple: the price would be set and non-negotiable. 

In other words, Anderson sees haggling as an awesome thing. Unfortunately,more than 90 percent of car shoppers hate it, which makes the Apple model more attractive than he might think. 

The good news is that Tesla got to conduct two of its three planned days of test drives before being shut down, showing off its products and sparking interest among consumers. Whether those new fans might be able to convince legislators to loosen Iowa's franchise laws and allow Tesla to sell directly to consumers, however, is another matter entirely.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.
Real news can be honest, hopeful, credible, constructive.
What is the Monitor difference? Tackling the tough headlines – with humanity. Listening to sources – with respect. Seeing the story that others are missing by reporting what so often gets overlooked: the values that connect us. That’s Monitor reporting – news that changes how you see the world.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to

QR Code to Iowa shakes fist, tells Tesla to get off its property
Read this article in
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today