A proposed North Carolina law will ban the direct sale of cars from manufacturers to consumers, pretty much booting Tesla right out of the state. The bill already has unanimous approval from the state Senate’s Commerce Committee and is moving on to the State Senate and House.
Not surprisingly, this bill was strongly supported by the North Carolina Automobile Dealers Association who worked very hard to push it through the approval process. The stated rationale is that it will prevent unfair competition between manufacturers and dealers, but it’s hard to see what exactly is unfair about how Tesla sells its cars. They can’t compete with their own dealerships because they simple don’t have any.
What is easy to see is that this bill will absolutely benefit the dealerships of other manufacturers by removing Tesla from the market. It paves the way for them to sell their electric vehicles over a Tesla. One group it doesn’t benefit is the North Carolina consumer who won’t be able to pick up a Tesla in their state.
Although this bill doesn’t specifically target Tesla, they stand to lose the most since their sales model doesn’t include dealerships. This isn’t a new problem for the manufacturer as North Carolina isn’t the first state to enact this type of law.
Tesla is already fighting the good fight down in Texas where current laws prevent their Austin showrooms from selling, offering test drives or revealing the price of their vehicles. Still, you can at least buy a Tesla in Austin which is more than you’ll be able to do in North Carolina if the new law passes.
They’ve also had issues selling their vehicles in Massachusetts where a suit brought on by the Massachusetts State Automobile Dealers Association was thrown out by a judge, and in Virginia, where they were denied a dealer’s license. The proposed North Carolina law proves that this is just one more in what will likely be a series of battles for Tesla to maintain its current sales model.
Nicole Wakelin fell in love with cars as a teenager when she got to go for a ride in a Ferrari. It was red and it was fast and that was all that mattered. Game over. She considers things a bit more carefully now, but still has a weakness for fast, beautiful cars. Nicole also writes for NerdApproved and GeekMom.