AUSTIN, Texas — A poll conducted by the Austin Business Journal shows that 85 percent of the publication’s online readers answered “Yes” to the question: "Tesla wants to sell electric cars directly to consumers. Should it be allowed to bypass Texas dealership regulations?"
Read by business owners, managers and employees, the publication also found that only 12 percent of the 1,897 readers who cast their vote indicated that they aren’t in favor of allowing the electric vehicle maker to bypass dealer franchise laws in that state. Three percent said they weren’t sure of their position.
"This survey confirms that Texans, who take pride in their free enterprise philosophy, do not believe that there should be an arbitrary exception in the automotive marketplace," said Elon Musk, co-founder and CEO of Tesla Motors. “For the auto dealer association to claim that restricting competition is in the best interests of the public is wrong and defies obvious common sense.”
The poll comes as two bills make their way through the Texas state legislature, House Bill 3351 and Senate Bill 1659. A vote in favor of either bill would allow manufacturers of electric cars to sell directly to consumers in Texas. Musk, however, noted that the bills would offer protections to the franchise systems.
“This amendment takes care to ensure that the long held franchise rights of auto dealers to sell their existing brands are still protected, which was the original intention of the law," Musk said.
If the bills pass, Musk said Tesla is committed to creating several hundred new jobs in Texas at its stores and service centers. Texas would also be a leading candidate for a new Tesla auto manufacturing plant.
Texas is one of several states contesting Tesla’s business model. Dealers in Illinois, Massachusetts, New York and Oregon each filed lawsuits against the electric carmaker. While Tesla won the first court rounds in Massachusetts and New York, the National Automobile Dealers Association reported today that Virginia lawmakers ruled against Tesla’s retail operation.