While Elon Musk and Tesla Motors has seemingly rolled from one easy victory to the next, there is one place the electric automaker was soundly trumped; Texas. Despite winning legislation in most other states, Tesla was sent packing when both bills it sponsored failed to even come up to vote. It’s the legacy of a deceased dealer lobbyist and the familiar story of money in politics.
Dealer lobbyist Gene Fondren was key in helping draft the tightest dealership protection laws in America. Despite Elon Musk making $7,500 in campaign donations and spending between $255,000 and $565,000 on lobbying efforts, the car dealer lobby donated $2.5 million to election campaigns, and spent another $750,000 on lobbying. This deluge of money helped keep the door closed on Tesla’s efforts to sell the Model S in Texas.
The law prevents Tesla store representatives from taking would-be buyers on a test drive, discussing price points, or even directing buyers to the company website. Those who do buy a Tesla Model S must have it shipped via third-party services into Texas on trucks with no Tesla decals. It’s a wonder Texas even lets the Model S be registered, though this is also a state that has been praying for rain since a devastating drought took hold. In case you’re wondering, it isn’t working.
Texas is playing favorites with the dealer association, and Tesla’s efforts to sell cars directly to customers obviously has dealer lobieys running scared. Still, it’s ironic that a state whose governor declared it “open for business” seems to be going out of its way to keep a cutting-edge automaker from doing business, even though other electric automakers have found Texas to be plenty welcoming. Priorities, priorities.
With the establishment acting so scared, it means Elon Musk must be doing something right.
Source: The Dallas Observer