We recently covered the controversy in North Carolina over Tesla being barred from selling its cars directly to consumers. A reader highlights a similar situation in Texas:
Given your coverage Rick Perry’s crony capitalism and Tesla’s supposed advantages because of subsidies, I’m surprised you haven’t covered the horrible law in Texas that makes it incredibly tough for Tesla to sell cars to Texans. The law is designed to protect auto dealers, although in Orwellian fashion they say it is to protect “consumers” from being treated unfairly by auto manufacturers. To buy a Tesla in Texas one has to order it on the website, then arrange for delivery with no assistance from Tesla itself. Tesla can (and does) give information about the car in its stores in Houston and Austin, but the company cannot give test drives and cannot “sell” the car in any way, including even helping people navigate the website, without violating the law. To give you some idea of the practical issues involved, here’s a 170+ post thread on Tesla Motors Club (not affiliated with Tesla) about how to register and take ownership of your car without the help of a Delivery Specialist.
Tesla lobbied the state legislature this past session to get the law changed, but the auto dealers association fought hard against them and ultimately ensured there was no vote on the bill, which ensures that Tesla won’t be able to sell cars until 2015 (at the earliest), when the legislature next convenes.
The irony of all this? Perry travels to California to tell businesses to move to Texas because it’s so much more business friendly than California. SpaceX (Elon Musk’s other company) is putting a facility in Texas, yet the crony capitalism of Texas wins out and allows the auto dealers to maintain this unholy anti-business and anti-capitalist law on the books.