Tesla pushing for bills to expand auto sales


by JESSICA VESS / KVUE News & Photojournalist KENNETH NULL

Bio | Email | Follow: @JessicaV_KVUE


Posted on April 10, 2013 at 11:16 AM

Updated Wednesday, Apr 10 at 3:12 PM

AUSTIN -- The push is on to keep business booming in Texas.

The makers of the electric car Tesla say right now the Lone Star State is the only state in the nation keeping them from selling to customers.

Co-founder and CEO Elon Musk testified on Tuesday before lawmakers. He is pushing for House Bill 3351 and Senate Bill 1659, which would open up those sales.

The Tesla is an all electric, high-end vehicle. The Model S car sells for about $60,000. It's a relatively new vehicle on the market in the U.S. Musk says sales are slowly climbing.

In the first quarter report, Musk says Tesla sold more than 4,700 vehicles nationwide. Only a handful came from Texas customers.

State law currently prevents Tesla from opening its own dealership in Texas. Instead Musk has to rely on other dealerships to open up their space for Tesla cars, or spread the message of his autos through galleries in which customers can view the autos but not make a purchase.

The bills before lawmakers would change that. They would allow manufacturers and distributors of only electric-powered or all battery-powered motor vehicles sell directly to customers.

“It's the only way to have a chance, to have a chance at success,” said Musk.

Currently Musk says about 10 percent of all auto sales in the U.S. comes from Texas, but there are only about 400 Tesla cars in the state. Customers have to order the vehicle from another state.

Musk admits he has doubts that lawmakers will pass the legislation, but says he's spoken with Governor Perry and says Perry has said he'd sign the bill if it comes to his desk.