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Ohio auto dealers fight Tesla over sales model

COLUMBUS, Ohio - Ohio auto dealers are sparring with California-based automaker Tesla (TSLA), which is selling its next-generation electric cars from two Ohio storefronts.

Ohio is among states proposing to block future Tesla direct-sales stores on grounds they undercut traditional auto dealerships. New Jersey officials approved a regulation last Tuesday effectively prohibiting automakers from going straight to customers.

Tesla vice president Diarmuid O'Connell visited Ohio legislative leaders that same day to try to discourage them from passing similar restrictions.

He argues the several hundred vehicles Tesla has sold in Ohio represent a fraction of the market. He says direct-to-consumer sales are needed to jumpstart electric-car technology and drive down prices.

Dealers with $2 billion in payroll annually say their businesses can only prosper when the law separates manufacturers and dealers.

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