Tesla refuses to quit in Texas, pushes for new bill that supports all automakers

Tesla vanity Texas license plate [Photo: Tom Fox/The Dallas Morning News]

Tesla is making a renewed push for its direct to consumer sales model in Texas after being rebuffed twice in the past by the local franchise dealer association.

In years past, Tesla doubled the size of its lobbyist team to fight for legislation that would allow the company to operate up to 12 store within the state. The resulting House bill did not come to a committee vote and the Senate proposal never received a hearing. The efforts are based largely in part to Texas being a huge market for vehicles sales, only second to California which leads as the US state with most sales.

This year, the company changed its tactics by supporting a bill that would allow any manufacturer to sell direct to customers. The Texas State Representative who filed the legislation in the Texas House, Jason Isaac said:

“[The bill] will allow manufacturers of vehicles any weight, class, size or shape to sell direct to consumers. It’s a simple, free-market bill to allow that to happen.”

For Isaac, the issue is about more than Tesla. According to The Texas Tribune, Isaac saw a glimpse of the future after visiting an Amazon fulfillment center in Texas, and seeing hundreds of robots automating tasks within the warehouse. It was then that Isaac was able to understand for the first time the efficiencies possible if trucks in Texas were able to move cargo autonomously within the state — technology that Tesla is already working to make available in the coming years.

“I really believe in the next 10 to 20 years we are going to see a complete change in our transportation system,” Isaac said, “and the last thing I want is any barrier to that technology being available.” He admits his bill faces a “really, really steep uphill climb” in the state legislature this session, but he says, “I think we should have the conversation.”

David White, who has been a spokesperson for Tesla in prior years noted that the bill does not put Tesla first, but rather opens up the market for all manufacturers:

“There are no carve-outs, incentives, subsidies, breaks, or deals for any manufacturers here. This is all about the consumer and it’s the direct sales model Texans have been asking for.”

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