Bill advances to let Tesla sell cars in Arizona – USA TODAY
A bill advanced in the Arizona legislature that would allow Tesla Motors to sell its car directly to the public, instead of going through dealers.
The bill comes as Arizona has become a one of four states that are finalists for a giant new battery plant that Tesla plans to build in the Sunbelt. But the state Rep. Warren Petersen, the bill’s author, downplays the connection.
“For me this is about economic freedom,” he said on CNBC Friday. “It gives customers the ability to choose what cars they want to buy.”
The bill, which was passed by a state Senate committee this week, faces strong opposition from car dealers, the Associated Press reports.
“Tesla is asking for a special exemption for them to have a separate set of rules for their electric cars,” Mike Gardner, a lobbyist for the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, told the Senate Commerce, Energy and Military Committee. “What we’re opposed to is allowing one of our competitors to go around the dealer network and sell directly to consumers. We think we should all be treated the same.”
But Petersen, a Republican representing Gilbert, Ariz., says the message of the legislation is that the state is open for business.
Tesla is fighting to be able to sell its cars directly in a number of states where it has been shut out, including New York and Ohio. It had a big setback a week ago when New Jersey’s Motor Vehicle Commission ruled that it can no longer sell directly in the state.
In Arizona, Tesla has a showroom in Scottsdale but can’t sell cars directly. Instead, it takes internet orders.
Arizona joins New Mexico, Nevada and Texas as the states that are finalists for the Tesla battery plant, where it and partners plan to invest up to $5 billion and create hundreds of jobs.