This bit from NPR hits the nail on the head. Tesla is trying to change this.
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That was a very interesting discussion. The amazing thing is that Tesla’s model solves all of the major issues with it – particularly the need for such a large upfront investment. Wouldn’t it make more sense to focus on just-in-time manufacturing and delivery based on internet orders and simply allow dealers to have smaller showrooms with service operations? The dealer would register your visit and if you placed an order, they’d get a commission of course. Dealers essentially lose more money the longer they have a car on the lot so why not keep just a few of the popular models in stock and let everyone else order and customize to their heart’s content.
The biggest knock I’ve heard against Tesla’s model is based on continued service. People seem to think that if the company were to disappear, their service centers would too and the people who bought cars would be SOL. 1) The cars barely need any service and 2) why wouldn’t the free market correct for this?