Tesla’s direct-sale bill is shelved in North Carolina

Things are not improving on the direct-sale front for Tesla. After recent setbacks in Texas and Connecticut, now a new bill introduced this week in North Carolina has been shelved for the current legislative session. 

We reported earlier this week that Tesla was facing opposition from other automakers trying to stop them from selling their vehicles directly to customers in North Carolina after the company had pushed a new bill in the Senate that would open the door for them to obtain more dealership licenses.

Last year, Tesla was denied a new dealer license by North Carolina’s DMV when local car dealerships evoked the state’s ban on car sales by manufacturers.

They had since negotiated a compromise with them to allow 6 more licenses for Tesla to expand in the state – something that is somewhat urgent with the imminent launch of the Model 3.

But now not dealers but automakers opposed the bill and the legislature stopped the process.

Sen. Trudy Wade, R-Guilford, who co-chairs the Senate Committee on Commerce and Insurance, didn’t like where it was going. She told WRAL:

“I think it was moving a little fast.”

It could potentially be brought back by end of the current session, said Wade.

Tesla commented on the move:

“We continue to push to expand our locations in North Carolina and advocate for consumers who want the option to buy electric vehicles throughout the state. In the meantime, we continue to serve our customers in North Carolina at our Raleigh and Charlotte facilities while we work to expand and grow these operations through the legislature and the courts,”

The company has not been shy to go to court when the legislature fails since it sees the issue of blocking their business model as violating commerce laws.

Earlier this year, Tesla sued both Utah and Michigan over the direct-sale issue. It lost in Utah Supreme Court, but the case is still ongoing in Michigan.

In the few states where Tesla can’t sell directly at all, like Texas, Michigan, and Connecticut, or where it has a mandatory limitation on the number of stores, like New York and now North Carolina, the company has been relying on online sales and handling the delivery process through stores in other states.

That could prove more difficult as Tesla’s delivery volume increases with the upcoming launch of the Model 3, which is likely why we are seeing a lot of efforts from the company to lift those bans lately.

Featured Image: via Leilani Münter on Medium

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