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Tell Tesla No

Wed, 05/08/2019 - 15:57

East Hampton Town officials should tell Tesla to take a hike. The company recently renewed a pitch to install a charging station for its cars on public property in Montauk. This came after Tesla about a year ago asked to use a portion of the ocean beach parking lot at Kirk Park in Montauk and was shot down. This makes no sense whatsoever.

Imagine for a moment that we were not talking about electric cars but a company that sold, say, old-fashioned fossil fuel gasoline,  or menswear, or acorn squash that sought to take over public land. The town board would never give the proposal a minute’s attention. 

Tesla is running scared as all the major automobile manufacturers move more electric and hybrid vehicles toward the market. One way to help prop up its market share is to widen availability of its branded charging stations. There is one on County Road 39 in Southampton already, rarely used but highly visible on the roadside. This is part of the company’s messaging, as the one proposed for the Kirk Park lot would have been. Billboards are not allowed in East Hampton Town; a slick illuminated station at the entrance to hip Montauk surely seemed like a great idea to the people in Tesla’s marketing division. 

Note that Tesla famously does not advertise, at least not in the traditional sense. According to Ad Age, “Nissan in 2016 spent $4.3 million in measured media on its electric Nissan Leaf, including on a print ad early last year that took on Tesla. By contrast, Tesla spent nothing. . . .” East Hampton Town officials need not be patsies in the car company’s game.

Let’s make one thing perfectly clear: We strongly believe electric vehicles are the way of the future. PSEG Long Island has offered $500 rebates for consumers who install “smart” chargers at their houses. The town has already added several hybrid vehicles to its fleet. The Star has a universal charger available to its employees at no charge. These are good, as a charging station in Montauk would be as long as it were not on public land and met all zoning and building requirements. As good as alternative fuel cars might be, no company deserves special treatment.

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