Have you heard about the Tesla Model S? It is a beautiful, streamlined sporty sedan that runs entirely on electricity with 0 emissions. Its range on one charge is considerably farther than that of other electric cars — from 208 to 265 miles depending on the battery, which can be charged at any regular 240- or 120-volt outlet. And it was honored as Motor Trend’s Car of the Year in 2013.
In addition to superior performance, Tesla’s cars are different because they are sold directly by the company rather than through dealers. This seems sensible on the face of it, since having an intermediary raises the price unnecessarily. But according to the Chicago Tribune, ” No fewer than 48 states ban or limit direct sales of automobiles.” In some states, stores owned by Tesla Motors itself can sell the cars, while in other states Tesla can open stores for marketing purposes but cannot actually sell the cars at the stores.
Texas — which prides itself on being “open for business” — is one of the most difficult states for Tesla.
The Austin- American Statesman reports,
“You can visit one of the two [yes, TWO!] ‘galleries’ Tesla Motors operates in the state — one in Austin, the other in Houston — but employees can’t tell you how much the car costs. They can’t offer you a test drive. They can’t even give you their website address.”
Auto dealers call these rules “consumer protection,” but who are they really protecting? Online sales by other companies such as Amazon.com have grown exponentially because they give good customer service at prices that are often lower than brick and mortar stores. Why would lawmakers expect TeslaMotors.com to treat its customers any differently?
Bill Wolters, president of the Texas Automobile Dealers Association, identifies who is really being protected when he says that he fears “if they change the franchise laws [to allow companies to sell cars directly], it allows every other manufacturer to come in and do what Tesla is going to — compete with our family-owned businesses.”
I can understand his fear, but as Steve Chapman wrote in the Chicago Tribune, “Since when is ‘compete’ a bad word in free-market Texas?” Is it possible that another reason this electric car is being repressed is that it gives high performance without petroleum products?
Also, it is not surprising to find out that ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council) is involved in the state laws that limit Tesla. For example, in 2013 North Carolina’s Senate Bill 327 stated that cars could not be sold through unlicensed out-of-state dealers via telephone or Internet. This bill, aimed at Tesla, was developed by ALEC. It passed in the NC Senate, but fortunately it was dismissed by the state’s House of Representatives.
A petition to allow Tesla Motors to sell cars directly to consumers has been established on whitehouse.gov. It has already received the 100,000 signatures needed for a response from the White House, but more signatures will help the cause. Visit this link to sign the petition!