Tesla Takes on Texas Dealer’s Association
Tesla Motors is no stranger to resistance from state dealer associations, which oppose the electric automaker’s factory-owned store approach. The best-documented standoff has been between Tesla and the Massachusetts Dealer Association, but has court or legislative battles happening in several states. The latest state dealer association the company is facing off with is the Texas Automobile Dealers Association, according to Automotive News.
Tesla VP of business development, Diarmuid O’Connell has among the highest barriers in the nation for the operation of a factory-owned store. Tesla currently operates two “galleries” in Austin and Houston, but in order to comply with current state franchise law, representatives cannot initiate or complete a sales transaction or deliver a vehicle on-site. Customers must contact a representative in California to complete the sales transaction, as well as arrange their own transport and delivery arrangements. Even in the area of service and warranty work, requests have to be routed through California, which then sub-contracts the work to the service centers in Texas.
To combat the contorted, Goldbergian work-arounds to sell and service vehicles in the state, Tesla is backing a bill in the Texas legislature that would change the states inflexible franchise laws to make it easier to operate factory-owned dealerships and service centers. But the state dealer association has been actively lobbying legislators and has participated in hearings, claiming that the traditional franchise dealer model is the best way to sell and service vehicles. The association is predicting failure of the Tesla-sponsored legislation that would allow them to operate, calling Tesla’s request for an exemption from existing franchise law “arrogant.”
Tesla continues to battle the Massachusetts dealer association with proposed legislation that would change the state’s dealer franchise law. The state’s dealer association is backing its own separate bill thwarting Tesla’s efforts. The one bright spot for Tesla lately has been Minnesota, where the state dealer association has temporarily suspended its pursuit of franchise law legislation that would have prevented Tesla from opening retail outlets in the state.
Source: Automotive News (Subscription Required)