BUSINESS

Anti-Tesla States Jabbed With Luddite 'Award'

02/06/2015 01:14 pm ET | Updated Feb 06, 2015
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The votes are in for the inaugural Luddite Awards, intended to call out the stifling of innovation. The winners of the dubious honor are four states which banned Tesla Motors from selling its electric cars directly to consumers.

The Information Technology & Innovation Foundation bestowed the awards on Arizona, Michigan, New Jersey and Texas. These states, under pressure from car dealership associations, created their Tesla bans to enforce decades-old regulations barring manufacturers from vending right to consumers. While the laws were designed to protect small dealerships, they have made it harder for startup Tesla to sell its cars in those areas.

The term Luddite describes someone who opposes new technologies. It derives its origin from the bands of early 19th-century English textile workers who destroyed newly automated milling machinery out of fear that it endangered their jobs.

“Pure Ludditeism is people wanting to oppose new technology that threatens jobs, and that’s exactly what this is,” Robert Atkinson, the president of the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation, told The Huffington Post last month. “In this case it’s wealthy car dealers who have a great thing going and want to prevent competition.”

Atkinson said he hopes the award will put pressure on lawmakers to repeal the bans or pass special legislation to legalize Tesla sales.

“I saw this and said ‘enough is enough, let’s call these people out, let’s shed light on the harm they’re really doing,’” Atkinson said Friday. “Hopefully the next time people vote in an election in New Jersey or Texas or these other places, they’re going to vote a little differently.”

Nearly 1,600 voters chose from a pool of 10 Luddite nominees. The poll was conducted online through the website Survey Monkey.

Other Luddite Award contenders were the National Rifle Association, nominated for its stance against smart guns, and the French government, which bars Amazon from shipping books for free.

Tesla did not respond to a request for comment.

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