Tesla won’t be going solo in the Lone Star State, at least not for a couple of years.
Automotive News reports that a pair of bills which would’ve exempted the company from the state’s franchise laws, and allowed it to own and operate its own dealerships, failed to move forward in the legislature before the end of this year’s session and it won’t meet again until 2015.
Tesla has not yet commented on the decision.
Texas is one of many states that require automakers to sell through independently-owned franchises. Tesla currently operates two “showrooms” in the state, but sales are handled directly by the factory in California. Staff at the outlets are not allowed to engage in any sales activities, only provide information on the cars.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk personally travelled to Austin in April to lobby for the bills, telling Forbes:
“It is crazy that Texas, which prides itself on individual freedom, has the most restrictive laws in the country protecting the big auto dealer groups from competition. If the people of Texas knew how bad this was, they would be up in arms, because they are getting ripped off by the auto dealers as a result (not saying they are all bad – there a few good ones, but many are extremely heinous).”
Tesla has been fighting similar battles across the country, racking up wins in Minnesota, Massachusetts and New York, and a loss in Virginia. The North Carolina legislature is currently considering a bill that would ban direct sales of cars over the internet, regardless if an automaker has a brick and mortar location in the state.
As for Texas, Musk has even grander plans regarding his other company, Space X, which is considering opening a private spaceport near Brownsville, a plan the state appears to be getting on board with after Gov. Rick Perry recently signed a bill that allows for the closure of a nearby public beach 12 days a year to facilitate the launches.