Tuesday, February 27, 2024
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Arizona bill would allow Tesla to skip dealers

Electric car manufacturer Tesla Motors would be allowed to sell cars in Arizona without establishing a dealer network under a bill approved by a state Senate committee Wednesday.

House Bill 2123 is strongly opposed by traditional auto manufacturers and dealers, who argue that Tesla wants to operate outside the normal rules that require manufacturers to sell cars through dealers. They say allowing sales directly from an automaker could leave consumers in the lurch if the company goes belly-up.

"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."

(Read more: New York may be next state to put brakes on Tesla)

But Rep. Warren Petersen, the bill's sponsor, said dealers and manufacturers are trying to stifle innovation.

Tesla Model SAllen Wastler | CNBC

"This is a great opportunity for us to send a message that we welcome business and we welcome Tesla here to Arizona," said Petersen, R-Gilbert. "We shouldn't deny our consumers from being able to purchase a product if they want."

Tesla has a showroom in Scottsdale but can't sell cars there under a 2000 law. Instead, it takes orders online.

Arizona is also one of four states vying for a new lithium-ion battery factory that would supply the company's Fremont, Calif., assembly plant. Others are New Mexico, Nevada and Texas. Tesla says it will invest $2 billion in the 10-million-square-foot factory, which will cost between $4 billion and $5 billion.

Despite Arizona being in the running for the plant, lawmakers said the bill was unrelated.

(Read more: Elon Musk takes shot at Christie's 'Bridgegate')

"I don't want to send a message, even though this is not a quid pro quo," said Sen. Bob Worsley, R-Mesa. "I want the message from our state to be that we welcome the opportunity to work with large successful companies with this size market cap."

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