West Michigan gets first Tesla service center in Grand Rapids

Breana Noble
The Detroit News

West Michigan is getting its first Tesla Inc. service center.

A settlement with the state of Michigan last year opened the way for the Silicon Valley electric-car maker to sell and service Tesla vehicles in the state. Tesla sells directly to customers instead of through the traditional dealership model, which Michigan law previously prohibited. Michigan residents had to travel out-of-state to buy or get their Tesla serviced.

The new Tesla Clarkston service center is the brand's first in Michigan after a long legal fight.

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Now, Tesla is setting up shop in Grand Rapids. The automaker signed a lease in November to rent space at 2919 29th St. SE near the border of Kentwood from Ohio-based Sean Properties Michigan LLC, according to documents filed with the Register of Deeds that was first reported by WOOD TV.

The same day, it also filed a building permit application calling for "limited" improvements to the building's interior for Tesla "auto sales, delivery and vehicle service center." Estimates for the renovations were $500,000.

Tesla opened its first service center in Michigan last year in Clarkston. Prior to that, it had a gallery at the Somerset Collection in Troy that only could provide information on its vehicles before the January 2020 settlement.

SUV and sedan models front the new Tesla Clarkston store. The service center is open and the showroom will follow in a few months.

Tesla had been barred from opening service stations in the state, or selling its vehicles directly to customers since October 2014 when former Gov. Rick Snyder signed a bill into law that he said "clarifies and strengthens” an existing statute that prohibited direct sales of new cars to protect dealers. Customers had to travel to Cleveland, Columbus or even Chicago to buy or get a Tesla serviced. The company opened a center in Toledo in 2019.

The settlement with Attorney General Dana Nessel determined Tesla buyers had to get the vehicle titled out-of-state and then transfer it in-state. The automaker also could operate service centers under a Michigan-based subsidiary.

A bill passed by House lawmakers in December appeared to attempt to counteract the settlement after a carveout for Tesla was removed. The bill would have banned vehicle manufacturers from directly or indirectly owning a motor vehicle repair or service center.

bnoble@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @BreanaCNoble