Rivian’s $5 billion manufacturing plant in Georgia pushes lawmakers to revisit the peach state’s legislation on direct sales by vehicle manufacturers. Rivian’s presence in Georgia solidifies the state’s growing electric vehicle industry, making legislators reconsider its take on direct vehicle sales.
As of this writing, Tesla is the only car manufacturer allowed to sell vehicles to customers directly. Georgia approved legislation in 2015 that allowed Tesla to sell cars without going through local dealers. However, the bill limits Tesla’s direct sales to five locations statewide.
Georgia HB 460
In 2021, Rivian and other players in the EV industry like Lucid and Lordstown Motors sent a coalition letter to Georgia Legislature, showing their support for House Bill 460.
“…we ask you to support House Bill 460, which would allow dedicated manufacturers of EVs, who have never been party to a franchise dealer agreement, to sell their vehicles directly to customers (“direct sales”) in the state of Georgia,” the letter stated.
Rivian and the other companies supporting HB 460 sent the coalition letter to Georgia legislature in February 2021, months before the Illinois-based EV manufacturer announced its production plant in the peach state. Rivian has been lobbying Georgia lawmakers to allow direct sales in the state for the last few years.
Rivian’s decision to build a production facility in Georgia did not hinge on HB 460 passing. Rep. Chuck Martin noted that Rivian advocated for HB 460, but “by no means tied the laws, or the passage of it, to any funding in Georgia.”
The Georgia Automobile Dealers Association
After Rivian revealed its production facility in Georgia, Lea Kirschner — CEO of the Georgia Automobile Dealers Association — reached out to the company in a statement.
“Georgia’s franchise automobile dealers and the more than 70,000 Georgians employed by dealers and their suppliers throughout the state look forward to working with Rivian to deliver their electric vehicles to consumers, when they become available, under Georgia’s existing franchise dealer laws,” Kirschner stated.
Rivian’s response revealed the company still had hopes that HB 460 would be passed by Georgia legislature.
“Dealerships and their lobbyists stand against this effort by blocking a fair and open EV market that empowers Georgia consumers,” replied James Chen, VP of public policy at Rivian.
Senate Bill 398
House Bill 460 remains on the docket in 2022. However, Georgia senators filed Senate Bill 398 this year to let companies like Rivian sell vehicles directly within the state. The legislation would allow car manufacturers who don’t have prior sales agreements with traditional car dealerships to sell to customers directly.
Senate Bill 398 specifically allows electric vehicle manufacturers to sell their cars directly in an unlimited number of locations in Georgia, unlike Tesla’s 5-location limit. The bill also states that EV companies must provide maintenance services for their cars.
“Rivian is bringing an unprecedented multibillion-dollar investment to Georgia in order to create 21st-century jobs and further America’s technology leadership,” Chen said. “It is time for Georgia’s leaders to support American jobs and empower consumer choice by passing HB 398,” noted Chen.
Read the Coalition Letter supporting HB 460 below.