Tesla Can Now Sell Directly To Arizona Consumers

March 20, 2014

A state Senate panel has voted to let Tesla Motors start selling vehicles in Arizona, directly to consumers. A 14-year-old state law bars auto manufacturers from direct sales, forcing them to go through independent dealers instead. So, while you can go to a Scottsdale showroom and sit behind the wheel of a Tesla, you cannot take a test drive. The only way to buy one now, is to order it online or go to California and buy one. 

Tesla has asked lawmakers for an exception, so it can avoid the dealership system. But, Davis Bauman of the Van Tuyl auto group, owners of 30 Arizona dealerships, said auto dealers have an important role in fighting for consumers when there is a warranty question.

“We get to fix the car under the warranty and we get to go fight for reimbursement, and the manufacturers are obligated to do that. So it is important for the consumers to have an advocate in that regard concerning any warranty repair that might come out," said Bauman.

And, House Bill 2123 leaves other carmakers out, granting the exception only to companies that exclusively make electric vehicles. Lobbyist Mike Gardner of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers is crying foul.
   

“The number one electric car in the United States today is made by Nissan, the Nissan leaf. We also have the Chevy Volt, the Toyota Prius, the Ford Focus electric. These cars are engineered exactly like the Tesla," said Gardner.

And, the bid by Tesla to sell direct to consumers comes as the company prepares to invest 1.6 billion in a new battery manufacturing plant.

Arizona is competing for the plant with Nevada, Texas and New Mexico but its lobbyist cautions there is no quid pro quo, saying just because Arizona changes its direct sales law does not mean it will get the plant.