Tesla Continues its Mission to sell its Electric Car in Texas

By Adam P. Newton, May 3, 2013, Green, News

Tesla Model S from WebsiteFor the past few weeks, Elon Musk has been petitioning the Texas legislature to amend the state constitution to allow for the sale of his Tesla electric cars directly to interested Texas consumers. And based upon a recent Austin Business Journal poll, he just might have the support he needs amongst the Texans. According to the results of the data, 85 percent of the 1,742 Texans that responded to the poll were in favor of Tesla selling directly to customers. Twelve percent of the respondents voted “no,” while 3 percent stated “I’m not sure.”

The overall issue that Musk and Tesla face is that current Texas law declares that all automobile sales must go through a Texas dealership. For example, Chevrolet or Kia can’t set up shop in Humble, Fort Worth, or Odessa to sell to customers themselves; instead, they must contract directly with an independent dealer – which is why dealerships can sell a wide variety of makes and models under one roof. With House Bill 3351, proponents of direct sales have proposed that companies producing only electric-powered or all battery-powered vehicles should be able to sell those vehicles directly to customers, as opposed to being forced to sell through dealerships.

Right now, Texans wanting purchase an electric car like the award-winning Tesla Model S have to first place an order online through the company website. The vehicle will then be shipped the customer’s house in large box, and because of Texas regulations, the Tesla employee delivering the vehicle is prohibited from helping the customer disassemble the packing materials that protected the car during transit.

Tesla Model S Jurvetson FlickrIn fact, because of the laws pertaining to Texas dealership sales, a Tesla employee working at the company’s showrooms in Austin and Houston isn’t even allowed to discuss prices with interested customers. If you were to walk into either of those establishments, you’d be presented with a museum or art gallery type setting, and instead of speaking to a Tesla employee about specific prices and features about Tesla electric cars, you’d talk to someone akin to a “curator” about the idea of the car and the company.

Sounds kinda frustrating, doesn’t it? In a state that prides itself on its strong do-it-yourself, can-do, “cowboy” mentality, Texans aren’t being allowed to take matters into their own hands. Sure, the Austin Business Journal poll admits to not being scientific in origin, but it’s easy to assume that more formal results would probably still be in Tesla and Musk’s favor (even if the split wasn’t 85%-12%).

And it seems that Tesla might even sweeten this legislative deal he’s hoping to cut. Elon Musk has stated that, if Tesla moves forward with plans to build electric trucks, Texas is a “leading candidate” for the company’s plant.

What are your thoughts on this issue? Do you think that Texans should be able to purchase whatever car they choose directly from the company of their choice without having to go through a Texas dealership or third-party middleman? Would you be more likely to buy an electric car (or truck) from Tesla if there weren’t so many hoops to jump through to make your purchase or get the car serviced?

Top Tesla Model S image courtesy of Tesla.

Bottom Tesla Model S image courtesy of Jurvetson.

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