Tesla is facing a second assault on its right to sell and service its cars directly in the state of Oklahoma as legislators moved anti-direct sale language to a new bill.

The company fears that the legislation will go as far as preventing it from pushing software updates over-the-air to its current fleet.

It wasn’t long ago that Oklahoma, and especially Tulsa, was trying to seduce Tesla to try to get the automaker to build a factory in the region.

Now the Oklahoma legislation has turned on Tesla as it tries to ban direct sales in the state, which would affect several automakers, but Tesla in particular since the automaker has already direct-to-consumer locations in the state.

Earlier this year, we reported on Tesla reaching out to its fans to try countering a new bill being considered in the state’s House Business and Commerce Committee.

At the time, Tesla argued that the bill (HB 3994) could even force the company to shut down its locations in the state:

If passed, this bill could force Tesla to close its existing locations in Oklahoma AND prevent Tesla from shipping cars to anyone in the state, which would force locals to travel out-of-state to service their cars or pick up their new Tesla vehicles. Oklahoma should focus on increasing revenue and jobs in the state, not stifling competition and limiting consumer choice.

Fortunately, the bill was defeated, but not for long. They have now used the same language and introduced it in a new Senate bill (SB 512).

Tesla has reached out to local owners and fans to let them know of the subterfuge:

“Just like HB 3994, SB 512 could be interpreted as forcing Tesla to close our service center and gallery locations in Oklahoma, as well as prohibiting Tesla from offering over the air software updates to your vehicle. Tesla locations bring jobs and revenue to the state, while serving the needs of our current and future Oklahoma vehicle owners.”

The automaker is encouraging local owners to reach out to their legislators to let them know that they are not OK with this initiative.

As we have previously reported, there are still some states that prevent Tesla and other automakers from selling directly to consumers.

This is because of old laws put in place to protect franchise dealerships against automakers trying to compete with the people who invested a lot of money into providing a sale and service workforce for them. It made a lot of sense.

But now, those same laws are being used to prevent Tesla and other new automakers who never had franchise dealerships from competing against dealers who sell vehicles from other automakers – it’s being used in an anti-competitive way.

Several states have changed those direct sale laws in order to avoid this misuse that gave a monopoly on car sales to third-party dealers, but there are still some misuses out there and efforts from dealers associations – which have a lot of power in state politics – to outlaw direct sales.

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Fred Lambert

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