Mayor Joe Ganim is trying to position the city as the regional distribution hub for automaker Tesla. On Wednesday the mayor submitted testimony to the state legislature’s Transportation Committee. “I told the Tesla executives when we met, I would strongly advocate for Bridgeport and our growing green-tech and clean energy industry sector to be the regional distribution hub for its electric vehicles.” Ganim supports legislation to make that happen.
I want to turn now to House Bill 7097, that in essence would allow the electric car manufacturer Tesla to obtain new or used car dealer’s licenses in Connecticut.
I do not wish to wade into the debate over the direct manufacturer car sales model, or the tradition of auto dealership franchises in Connecticut.
However, here again I would like to put in a plug for Bridgeport–Connecticut’s largest city, and home to many new and used car dealerships.
Demand for hybrid and fully electric cars is growing worldwide, nationwide and especially in our region.
Fairfield county and other areas of Connecticut are definitely a fertile ground for the sales of emissions-free Tesla vehicles.
Whether this General Assembly authorizes the direct sales of Tesla in Connecticut or not, consumers in our state want the ability to buy these cars.
I had a meeting recently with several top executives at Tesla and our municipal team in Bridgeport and it is clear to me that Tesla’s market is growing in New England and the demand for their vehicles is going up as drivers look to drive more environmentally sustainable vehicles and cut their own fuel costs.
Tesla is going to need to find a way to distribute its cars to the growing New England market in an efficient way and it is clear that this means a distribution center for vehicles in our region north of New York City.
Tesla also clearly stated that it has its eye on the Connecticut market not only for direct sales of cars, but also as a gateway base of distribution to Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Maine and Vermont.
And here again, as I told the Tesla executives when we met, I would strongly advocate for Bridgeport and our growing green-tech and clean energy industry sector to be the regional distribution hub for its electric vehicles.
Bridgeport has industrial space that is close to a deep water port, rail lines and highways and could provide ease of transit for Tesla’s vehicles to be distributed to sales locations.
This is a need Tesla has whether or not direct sales are permitted in Connecticut, because sales are already happening all over New England, and that is expected to increase once the newer, less expensive model 3 comes on the consumer market.
I would point out that when this legislation was in front of the General Assembly last year, as negotiations came to a head, Tesla offered to located a regional distribution center for its vehicles in Connecticut, bringing nearly 200 permanent jobs with it.
Since the failure of this legislation to pass, Tesla is now looking at other states to do regional distribution for the Northeast–such as Pennsylvania.
This would be very inconvenient for truck traffic having to drive through both crowded New Jersey roads and New York City before even arriving in the New England market.
Tesla knows this and has done the calculations, and that is why the company still very much has its eyes on locating its northeast regional distribution center in Connecticut.
And if that is the case, I would say: Why not Bridgeport?
>The city with a growing green-technology and clean energy cluster, plenty of industrial space and easy access to multiple modes of transportation would be a perfect fit for a hub for these zero-emissions vehicles.
The economic development to come from the jobs created by housing this distribution center in Bridgeport is something our urban area badly needs, and this could be compounded by providing more potential work to regional suppliers to support this growing and cutting-edge industry.
So for these reasons, for driverless vehicle testing and as a future home for zero emissions electric cars–I would urge consideration of Bridgeport as a center of innovation and testing.