To date, 80 North Carolina residents have squeezed their savings for the bragging right of owning the Tesla Model S electric car, some paying more than $100,000 for their g-force ride, but they may be among the last.
A legislative proposal, backed by the N.C. Automobile Dealers Association, would make it illegal for Tesla, or any other car maker, to bypass dealerships and sell directly in the state. The proposal cuts at the heart of Tesla’s business model: selling luxury cars over the phone or Internet and then delivering them to the front door of high-net-worth customers.
Still, the proposal was unanimously approved by the state Senate’s Commerce Committee on Thursday, despite concerns about the state dictating who should be allowed to sell an automobile. North Carolina is the latest forum for the clash as auto dealers around the country have mobilized, mostly without success, in legislatures and in the courts to block Tesla’s direct car sales.