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Op-ed: Sorry, Tesla, special exceptions are anti-Texan

by Carrol Smith is owner of Monument Chevrolet in Pasadena | Houston BizBlog | 04-23-2015

The facts are clear.

If Texans want to buy a Tesla today, they can. Tesla is not deprived from selling under the Texas franchised dealer system. It can appoint a dealer out of 1,300 already operating in Texas, or name one of its own.

It is that simple, but Tesla wants to be treated differently. This absolutely threatens the franchised dealer system. Special exceptions are anti-free market, anti-competition and anti-Texan.

Texas is the beacon of a free market. The laws in Texas are the most respected, and the automotive market is the most competitive in the country. Franchised dealer laws were created to prevent just this kind of monopoly being considered now. The laws have serviced Texans well, offering them convenience, choices and price competition. Franchise laws create order for what is a very complex industry.

Manufacturers have experienced tremendous success under the Texas franchised dealership laws. General Motors, for instance, builds over 350,000 vehicles in Arlington and is considering a $1.2 billion expansion. Toyota builds over 230,000 vehicles in San Antonio and recently announced the move of its North American headquarters here to Texas. Companies come to Texas to do business. We are the envy of the rest of the country. Are General Motors and Toyota requesting exemptions from the law? No.

Contrary to many claims, dealers are absolutely welcome to sell Tesla cars. The truth is, franchised dealers sell more electric vehicles that Tesla ever has. Taking into account the drop in Tesla sales from 2013 to 2014, Tesla would benefit under the franchise system.

In addition to diesel and gas-powered vehicles, dealers sell electric, hybrid, two-mode hybrid, and very soon, hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. BMW, Mercedes, Ford, Nissan, Porsche and Chevrolet all sell electric vehicles successfully under the Texas franchised dealer system. Tesla does not need a special exception.

Whatever the free market demands, dealers want to sell. That is in our best interest. We should not allow a California corporation to come in and demand to be treated different than any other company. That is not free market, not how business works and not in the best interest of Texans.



Carrol Smith is owner of Monument Chevrolet in Pasadena and Texas representative on the National Automobile Dealers Association board in Washington, D.C.