In spite of a strong effort on the part of Tesla Motors and others, a bill to allow direct sales, that is, outside of the dealer network, never even made it to the floor of the Texas Legislature.
Ostensibly, we live under a government “for the people” and “by the people” and yet time and again we see that the government works for someone else entirely. Individuals and consumer groups just don’t have enough money to throw at a problem to make it go away, despite the fact they approve Tesla Motors‘ direct-sales strategy. According to polls in Los Angeles, 99% approve of the strategy. In Texas, 87% of those polled would approve if Tesla Stores were opened.
Who does the Texas Legislature work for? Apparently the Automobile Dealers Associations, nationally and regionally, who exerted enough pressure on the government to keep the bill on the back burner. Tesla Motors hasn’t been defeated, per se, but still can’t open a Tesla Store in Texas until the bill is passed. It is a victory, of sorts, for the dealer associations, because the Texas Legislature won’t reconvene for another two years. Victory by stalling?
Tesla Motors is unlikely to cede to the law, since selling via dealer would essentially destroy sales. After all, when automobile dealers make the most of their profit off service, selling a minority vehicle such as the Tesla Model S is counterproductive. Even a former Texas car dealer, Sterling McCall, wrote in the Houston Chronicle, “It’s time we updated our laws to better… reflect the realities of today’s marketplace… manufacturers like Tesla don’t fit the traditional model for a volume retail dealership, not having or needing the full and extensive range of service, parts, new and used vehicle departments.” Come to think of it, I wonder if this is the same reason that other electric vehicles are having such a difficult time in the market, when they have to be sold side-by-side with conventional vehicles?
Image©Austin Business Journal