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Texas Gives Tesla the Cold Shoulder

The accolades keep piling up for the game-changing electric vehicle known as the Tesla Model S. Tesla was named as Motor Trend’s Car of the Year, and was also declared the safest car ever by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Consumers claim to love the vehicle. Yet, for all of the critical acclaim and media attention, Tesla has still sold relatively few units. The company has sold none in Texas and isn’t likely to do so anytime soon.

In Texas, as in many other states, it’s basically illegal for Tesla to sell its product – at least using the sales model the company wants to use. Tesla is aiming to change not only the idea of what an automobile can be but the way they are sold to consumers.

Tesla founder and CEO Elon Musk doesn’t like the traditional way cars are sold to consumers. He doesn’t like car dealerships who act as, in his option, unnecessary middlemen. Beyond that, he thinks dealership car salespeople aren’t equipped or incentivized to sell electric vehicles to consumers. With a 100 year head start in the minds of consumers, traditional gas powered vehicles are easier to sell. Electricity powered cars require more explaining, coaching and selling.

The Tesla sales model is ‘direct to consumer’ – cutting out franchise dealerships. The company plans to open dozens more Apple inspired Tesla stores in the next year. But in doing so, they are ruffling feathers in the powerful existing automobile industry. It’s not just a matter of preference. In many states, including Texas, it is illegal for car makers to sell their product directly to consumers. A strong lobby of auto dealer franchises will likely serve to keep that status quo.
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