As Tesla Motors eyes the Lone Star State for its $5 billion, 6,500 job Gigafactory battery plant, car dealers say they aren't willing to change Texas' ban on direct car sales to welcome it. But now an unexpected person says it might be time for a change: Texas Gov. Rick Perry.
As you've probably read by now, Texas is one of the states where Tesla's method of direct-to-customer car sales are banned, and while there are various Tesla "galleries" in the state, the law prohibits them from discussing pricing, doing test drives, or selling cars.
On an interview with Fox Business's Maria Bartiromo, Perry said it's high time state lawmakers look at changing things, lest his state lose the factory to somewhere else.
"Tesla's a big project," Perry told Maria Bartiromo. "The cachet of being able to say we put that manufacturing facility in your state is hard to pass up."
[...] Said Perry, it's in the "best interest" of Texans to revisit those rules — or, he said, what "some would say are antiquated protections … for the car dealers. The people of Texas will say, We don't need to be protected. We like to be able to negotiate straight away.'"
He's asking state lawmakers to have a "very open, thoughtful conversation about do we want to lead the country when it comes to manufacturing." Because, look, said Perry, "the world's changed." And there's a $5-billion manufacturing plant at risk going to one of three other states: Arizona, New Mexico or California.
Perry added that he thinks "the pros of allowing this to happen outweigh the cons."
Hey, you know what? Good on Rick Perry for coming out and doing this. I'm glad to hear he's in favor of looking at changing Texas' dealer laws. While the governor has been one of the largest recipients of car dealer cash over the years, to his credit he has also been very pro-business in Texas; I think he knows a good opportunity when he sees one. More than that, he sees an opportunity he'd rather not lose to Arizona or California.
I had a feeling this would happen. The voices of those who stand to benefit from Tesla's Gigafactory coming to Texas — elected officials, the tech sector, the construction industry, etc, — are starting to drown out the voices of the car dealers, even if they're still huge campaign contributors.
Other states are getting the message too. Arizona also bans direct sales, but now lawmakers there are pushing a bill that would allow direct sales in hopes of getting the Gigafactory as well.
Money talks and bullshit walks, and a lot of money is on the line with Tesla's factory.
Photo credit AP
Hat tip to Muffin!