Every Texan knows: Don’t speak too fondly of California around state Republicans.
The two states have long held a standoff as one became redder and the other bluer, each determined not to resemble the other.
But Tesla Motors on Friday will highlight a somewhat surprising difference between laissez-faire Texas and regulation-happy California when it rolls out its Model 3, a long-anticipated electric sedan that won’t be available for purchase in the Lone Star State.
The Model 3 launch marks the start of large-scale commercial production of the automaker’s most distinctive vehicle yet, a more accessible electric option that starts at $35,000. Hundreds of thousands of customers have already committed to purchasing them.
The roll-out comes just months after Tesla failed for the third time to dismantle regulations that prevent it from selling its vehicles directly to Texas drivers. The state has long outlawed that practice, requiring consumers to instead buy cars and trucks through franchised dealerships.
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The company supported a pair of House and Senate bills introduced during the last legislative session that would have allowed all automakers to sell vehicles directly to Texas buyers. Earlier efforts proposed narrower exemptions for electric- and battery-powered vehicles and manufacturers.
Rep. Jason Isaac, R-Dripping Springs, who introduced the House bill, called the measure a “free-market approach.” But the idea, faced with vociferous opposition from auto dealers, died again in both chambers.
That doesn’t mean that Texans can’t buy the new Model 3, but they’re subject to restrictions when ordering them. Per state law, Tesla is allowed to display its vehicles only at “galleries,” such as the one it operates at the Galleria.
Because such galleries are not considered dealerships, associates can’t provide information about pricing and purchasing. Texans can buy the cars online. Tesla is also somewhat limited in its ability to deliver and service vehicles in Texas.
The company earlier this year suggested that the fight isn’t over, vowing to “advocate for fair, common-sense reforms that will allow Tesla to invest in Texas and provide consumers the same choices car-buyers in nearly every other state enjoy.”