We've covered how car dealers across the country have tried to prevent Tesla from selling cars in their state with the help of antiquated franchise laws, especially in Texas. Now a longtime Texas dealer is speaking out on Tesla's behalf.
Many generations ago, dealerships who had franchises got their state legislatures to ban manufacturers from selling cars directly to their customers. As a way of preventing automakers from undercutting their own dealers this isn't necessarily an unreasonable position, but using them as a tool to prevent competition between dealers isn't what the measures were intended to do.
In today's Houston Chronicle there's a great Op-Ed from retired Houston-based car dealer Sterling McCall (everyone in Houston knows his dealership) arguing for Tesla. He manages to defend the idea of the existing law while arguing, persuasively, why Texas should consider a law in front of the legislature that would allow Tesla to sell in the state.
Tesla's model is to sell direct to consumers. And, while existing law in Texas dictates cars must be sold through a dealer, I believe there is room in our state for franchise dealers and a U.S.-based all-electric-car manufacturer to both sell to consumers. That is what pending legislation would allow, updating to fit this unique circumstance.We ought to welcome competition - and the innovation - that Tesla brings, just as dealerships already compete to sell more gas-powered, hybrid and natural gas vehicles from the country's larger manufacturers.
It's something the public wants. Ninety-nine percent of respondents to a Los Angeles Times online poll said that Tesla ought to be allowed to conduct direct sales of its cars. Right here in Texas, 87 percent of respondents in an Austin Business Journal online poll agree, too.
Of all the fights Elon Musk's picked (and there are many), this is the one enthusiasts should most want to see him win. Dealership laws create a barrier for small volume automakers who want to bring their products to the market.
(Hat tip to GunsAndTacos)