Buying and owning a Tesla in Texas is, lacking better words, far too complicated, of course, because Texas law does not allow automakers to sell directly to the consumer. Owning a Tesla in Texas, however, is even more difficult that you might imagine, because it only starts with buying from Tesla Motors.
For example, Tesla associates at the two (yep, just two) Tesla Galleries in Texas are prohibited, by law, from discussing pricing and reservation, and cannot even offer test drives. Prospective Tesla clients, however, can go online and build their own, and wait for delivery by a third-party. Registration is an expensive headache, often requiring new owners to pay, out of pocket, up to $5,000 in taxes, which would have otherwise been part of the finance deal. If anything goes wrong with the car, Tesla owners have to call the main office, in California, whose representatives will determine if the concern is warrantable, after which they can refer the owner to Tesla Motors TX, which isn’t allowed to advertise or discuss any other issues with the customer.
Since the beginning, Tesla Motors has signed exactly zero automobile dealer franchise deals, preferring instead to sell directly to the public. The reason for this is simple, so that Tesla Motors can control pricing and properly market its vehicles, just one at the moment, to its client base. On the other hand, this has caused problems in some states, whose protectionist automobile dealership laws prohibit automakers from selling directly to customers.
Tesla Motors has been successfully, more or less, with individual states, helping them to understand the Tesla Motors is no threat to the automobile dealership associations (ADA), at least not directly. Texas is still holding out, but Governor Rick Perry says it’s about time that Texas has “an open conversation” about marketing and selling electric vehicles, including Tesla Motors direct sales. Tesla Motors’ Vice President of Business Development, Diarmuid O’Connell, concurs, saying, “We’re not asking to blow up the franchise dealer system. We are looking for a narrow and reasonable window to be able to promote this new technology ourselves.”
Tesla Motors saw two bills die in committee last year, thanks to Texas ADA pressure. Will 2015 be the year for Tesla Motors in Texas?