A new law proposed by the North Carolina Senate will apparently make it illegal for Tesla to e-mail its customers and even answer their questions on the phone. How crazy is that?

The bill actually prevents automakers from “using a computer or other communications facilities, hardware, or equipment” to sell or lease a car to anyone in North Carolina.

Tesla communications director Shanna Hendriks has confirmed that “any communications device — including a telephone — could be captured as conducting sales activity, and [its use] prohibited except by franchise dealers.”

She claims state authorities are “trying to tie our hands as much as possible to ‘protect the customer’.”

The controversial law aims to eliminate what dealer associations in North Carolina and several other U.S. states deem ”unfair competition for rival dealerships.”

Tesla is currently the only automaker operating factory stores or so-called ”non-sales showrooms.” It owns no dealer franchise and sells vehicles exclusively through the Internet.

Some outraged N.C. residents have already launched a private website, Tesla Motors NC, to rally efforts around preventing passage of the law.


2013 Tesla S Model 3/4 view
Photo: Nauman Farooq

By Josée Paquet