Tesla to open its first Upstate New York sales showroom in deal with Oneida Indian Nation

Share This


Canastota, N.Y. — Tesla, the world’s largest maker of electric vehicles, plans to open a sales and delivery outlet with service and expanded charging locations just off the New York State Thruway in Madison County.

The 25,000-square-foot showroom is planned for a tract of Oneida Indian Nation-owned land across from the International Boxing Hall of Fame at Thruway Exit 34 near Canastota. It would be Tesla’s first direct sales outlet in the state outside the New York City area and is expected to open in 2025.

But you won’t have to wait that long to find Tesla nearby. Starting in a week or so, Tesla will offer delivery of pre-ordered electric vehicles at the Oneidas’ Turning Stone Resort Casino off Thruway Exit 33 in Verona. Tesla will maintain offices at Turning Stone for delivery processing and registration. Delivery will be available on the top floor of the casino’s parking garage. That will continue during construction of the new showroom.

The Tesla deal with the Oneidas provides a legal framework for the auto company to expand into Upstate New York. Tesla, whose CEO is billionaire Elon Musk, has always preferred to sell directly to consumers without going through third-party dealerships. But a New York state law that took effect in 2014 tightened up rules that require vehicle manufacturers to sell through dealerships.

Four existing Tesla direct sale showrooms were allowed to remain open at that time — two in Westchester County and one each in New York City and on Long Island. The closest to Central New York is in Mt. Kisco, Westchester County, more than 250 miles from Canastota. The new showroom will “eliminate obstacles to electric vehicle (EV) ownership in Upstate New York,” the Oneidas said in announcing the partnership.

“Tesla’s partnership with the Oneida Indian Nation is an opportunity to make electric vehicles and charging infrastructure more accessible to Nation Members and the residents of Upstate New York,” Rohan Patel, Tesla’s vice president for public policy and business development, said in a statement accompanying the Oneida news release.

The location near Canastota was chosen because of the ease of access to the Thruway, which carries about 250 million vehicles per year. The parcel is now occupied by a Oneida Nation Enterprises-owned Savon gas station and convenience market, which will be replaced by a nation-owned Maple View Market and retail plaza as part of the redevelopment, the Oneidas said.

The Tesla deal with the Oneidas is made possible under terms of a “settlement agreement” the nation reached with New York state in 2013, said Joel Barkin, the nation’s vice president of communications. That agreement, specific to the Oneidas, resolved several long-standing issues with the state, including land claims, law enforcement and taxes. The 2013 agreement, the Oneidas say, allows them to “pursue responsible land use and economic development initiatives without (state) interference.” Since the agreement went into effect, the Oneida nation has paid the state and 10 Central New York counties more than $600 million through a 25% share of the slot machine revenues at its gaming operations. Last year, those payments reached a record $85 million.

A follow-up agreement with the state controls how taxes will be handled in deals such as the one with Tesla. The auto company will send what would have been the state’s share of sales taxes on purchased vehicles to the Oneida Indian Nation. The nation will use that money to pay for its governmental programs like public safety, health care, education and environmental conservation. Tesla will remit county sales tax collections as usual “with no loss of tax revenue whatsoever to local communities,” the Oneida news release says.

Tesla has struck similar arrangements with sovereign Indian nations in other states that prohibit direct-to-customer sales, such as New Mexico.

“This initiative and partnership with Tesla align with the Nation’s commitment to environmental stewardship, the constant diversification of our enterprises and warm hospitality for all who enter our ancestral homelands,” Oneida Indian Nation Representative and Oneida Nation Enterprises CEO Ray Halbritter said in the news release. The nation will build the Tesla showroom and then lease it back to the car company. The Oneidas will use their existing “project labor agreements” with local building trade unions to hire workers. The construction, along with the resulting business operations, will add jobs for both Oneida nation members and others in the region. Tesla does not yet have a estimate for the total number of permanent jobs to be created.

The Oneida Indian Nation has about 1,000 enrolled members and nearly 4,500 employees.

“We are also excited to work with the Nation to foster top local talent through Tesla’s workforce development programs which will specifically provide Members of the Oneida Indian Nation with opportunities to learn diverse skills which can lead to full-time careers at Tesla,” Patel, the Tesla vice president, said.

In the news release, the deal was endorsed by Julie Tighe, president of the New York League of Conservation Voters; John M. Becker, chairman of the Madison County Board of Supervisors; and Robert Simpson, president and CEO of CenterStateCEO, the regional economic development agency. The Tesla deal with the Oneidas appears unrelated to a plan approved by the town of Manlius last fall for an electric vehicle service business at 5427 N. Burdick St.. That project is under way, but the developer has not yet identified the operator of the business.

Source: Syracuse.com

[related_posts_by_tax posts_per_page="4" format="thumbnails" image_size="full" limit_year="1"]