A two-month effort to pass bills in the Texas legislature that would allow Tesla Motors to sell electric cars directly to consumers has failed after lawmakers failed to vote on the issue before adjourning.
The bills would have created an exemption to the current law that prohibits factory-owned dealerships. The two Tesla-backed bills did not even make it to the floor, which mean a long wait before Tesla can try again in the Lone Star State, as the legislature will not convene again until 2015.
Currently, Tesla works around the rule in Texas by having retail locations where potential customers can learn about Tesla, even though the staff can’t engage directly in sales activity.
Tesla is fighting in other states, as well. It has won court decisions in Massachusetts and New York, according to Automotive News, and has won one round in Minnesota.
But Texas isn’t the only place where tides aren’t turning in Tesla’s favor. North Carolina has proposed a bill that would stop Tesla from selling its luxury vehicles in the state, according to the Raleigh News & Observer. The bill doesn’t call out Tesla by name, but it would make it illegal for automakers to bypass dealerships and sell directly in the state.
The issue, however, is that Tesla is the only popular carmaker that does not have a dealership. About 80 North Carolinians already have a Tesla, according to the News & Observer, but there will likely be more interested buyers, especially as the Tesla Model S, which starts at around $70,000, was named Motor Trend Car of the Year. There is still a chance that the bill will include an exemption for startups like Tesla, according to the News & Observer. There are about 400 Tesla Model S and Roadsters in Texas.
The legislation blockades in various states might appear to be a blow to the burgeoning electric vehicle (EV) industry, but most of the electric cars on the market come from big automakers that have nationwide dealerships, including Nissan, Honda, BMW, Chevy, Ford and Fiat.
The rules are a barrier specifically to startups like Tesla that are competing against other carmakers that are introducing electric options into the marketplace. In Virginia, Tesla tried to apply for a dealer license and was denied.
Tesla is already welcomed in other states, like California, where it has started its supercharging network. But Tesla has far grander plans, including a nationwide supercharging network by 2015. A nationwide supercharging system, however, will require a nationwide approach to be able to sell its cars.