West Virginia Ban Tesla Sales : News
Bad news for West Virginia citizens looking to buy an American-made Tesla electric car: The Mountain State’s legislature just rammed through a bill that will ban Tesla from selling direct to consumers. Democracy at work.
Yes, as Automotive News first reported, West Virginia Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin has signed a bill today that expressly states an automaker may not “act in the capacity of a new motor vehicle dealer.” The bill, which you can read here, was debated over the past few weeks in the state Legislature, and supported by West Virginia State Senate President Bill Cole—who, coincidentally, has for many years operated car dealerships in both West Virginia and neighboring Kentucky.
The state would have been an important gateway for the electric carmaker. While West Virginia itself offers one of the smallest auto markets in the U.S., its location would have been good news for potential Tesla customers in bordering Virginia and Pennsylvania, where Tesla has a restricted number of retail facilities, and Maryland, where Tesla’s direct-to-consumers sales model is banned. Legally speaking, Tesla’s status is uncertain in neighboring Ohio, and Kentucky offers no Tesla sales facilities at time of writing.
The bill was written to “clarify responsibilities between automakers and their franchised dealers,” according to a statement by Ruth Lemmon, president of the West Virginia Automobile & Truck Dealers Association. After the original bill was proposed, Tesla enacted a lobbying effort to attach an amendment that would give the company an exemption in the state. Such an amendment was added in the West Virginia House, but that ruling body struck down the amendment and accepted the Senate version without a Tesla exemption.
Now, according to the law signed today, manufacturers may not “operate a dealership, including, but not limited to, displaying a motor vehicle intended to facilitate the sale of new motor vehicles other than through franchised dealers,” unless that display is part of a trade show with more than two automakers. Thankfully, the bill does not prevent citizens from reserving a car directly from Tesla’s online configurator, but you’re out of luck if you wanted to kick the tires or arrange a test drive with a salesperson.
You’ll note that the bill’s language seems to not only ban sales at Tesla-owned storefronts, but goes so far as to prevent Tesla from operating “galleries,” non-retail locations that offer test-drives and general information but that do not conduct actual sales.
Contact Tesla Motors
Website | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube | Vimeo | Google+
Website | Facebook | YouTube | RSS Feed
Sources : Tesla Model S Photo | West Virginia Ban Article