NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - What do Louisiana monks and the automaker Tesla have in common? The innovative car company is considering using a recent court case involving the monks of St Joseph's Abbey to fight laws that restrict their sales.
The all-electric Tesla has come out with a new model, and a whopping 300,000 people have already plopped down deposits on a vehicle that requires no oil or gas, and can go up to 300 miles on a charge.
"The upgrades downloaded overnight just like Apple from your iPhone," said David Wolf. This is his second Tesla, and he bought them both directly from the manufacturer - no dealer required. "Since the car doesn't require service, you don't need dealerships with service bays."
Many Tesla owners believe it should be a fundamental right to buy directly from the manufacturer, but six states see it differently.
What Wolf loves most is the silent ride. But Tesla may soon make noise. The dealership requirement in a half dozen states blocks nearly a quarter of Tesla's market from being able to buy directly from the car maker, and Tesla is considering using a landmark lawsuit filed by the monks to sell more cars.
"It's interesting that this is such a big, big thing," said Mark Coudrain, who runs the monk's woodworking shop at St Joseph's Abbey north of Covington.
Louisiana funeral directors went to court to try and block casket sales by the monks in a case that went all the way to the U.S. Supreme court. It ultimately upheld the monks' right to sell directly to families without using funeral homes as middlemen, and Tesla may go to court to challenge dealership requirements, using the monks' lawsuit as a precedent to sell more cars.
"And now to be used for something like that, it's very interesting," said Coudrain.
Tesla owners will be watching.,
"Yeah, I think it's very interesting, and I hope the legal department at Tesla can make good on the case because I think it would be a good precedent for Louisiana and other states," said Wolf.
Tesla hopes to sell a half-million vehicles, by the year 2020, and the Louisiana casket case may help propel the auto company to that goal.
Though the Louisiana casket case was appealed all the way to the U.S. Supreme court, the nation's high court didn't actually hear the case. The high court let the Federal appeals court decision stand, allowing direct sales to consumers.