PALO ALTO, Calif. — In a statement posted on its website last week, Tesla Motors admonished Missouri lawmakers for adding new language to an existing bill that would require consumers to purchase vehicles through franchised dealerships, making the company’s sales model illegal. The bill passed the Senate on May 7 and could move to the House for a final vote.
“We have just become aware of a last-minute attempt by the auto dealers lobby, via pressure on legislators, to bar Tesla from selling its vehicles direct to consumers in the state,” the statement read, in part. “This extraordinary maneuver amounts to a sneak attack to thwart due process and hurt consumer freedom in Missouri.”
House Bill 1124 was passed by the House on April 17 minus the language banning direct-to-consumer vehicle sales. Dealers have since thrown their weight behind the new wording. Tesla faces similar hurdles in states like New Jersey, Arizona and Texas, where the direct sale of vehicles to consumers has been banned.
“This change is not an innocent, minor amendment. It is completely unrelated to the original bill, which was about laws regarding all-terrain vehicles, recreational off-highway vehicles, and utility vehicles,” read Tesla’s statement. “It is also a complete 180 from current law. The current statute only bars franchisors from competing against their franchisees (for example, Ford cannot compete against Ford dealerships).”
The automaker currently operates a service center in Missouri and plans to open another in Kansas City later this year.
“This debate should be held in the full light of day with all sides being given an opportunity to make their case. Instead, the dealers are again trying to ram through a provision under the cover of darkness and without public debate,” Tesla said in its statement. “The people of Missouri deserve better from their elected officials.”