Tesla's sales ban in Texas might be on the ropes following language adopted by the state GOP. Included in the official Texas Republican Party Convention platform is language in support of allowing Tesla to sell their cars from corporate-owned stores in the state. Tesla is currently banned from selling the Model S and Model X in Texas — locals can only purchase a Tesla online and while they will be delivered to them in Texas they will be registered in California, requiring a frustrating deregistration-reregistration process. And even though Tesla operates three service centers and galleries in the state, they're only permitted to offer test drives on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, and by appointment only at that — after Tesla has received a permit for that specific test drive. Tesla Gallery employees can't even discuss the price of the car or direct potential customers to the Tesla website.
But language put into the state GOP platform last week officially endorsed the position of allowing Tesla to sell their cars directly to Texas residents. According to The Dallas Morning News, the platform committee was heavily lobbied by U.S. Representative Roger Williams (R, 25th) and former GOP National Committeeman Bill Crocker to strip the language from the platform. Williams owns a Chrysler-Jeep-Dodge-Ram dealership in Weatherford, Texas, and Crocker is a lawyer that specializes in automotive interests in Texas, so you can imagine how balanced their views on the matter are. In the end, the entire platform, pro-Tesla language included, was approved by 90% of the 8,000 delegates.
Tesla had a booth at the convention in Dallas, and noted that many of the delegates were surprised to learn of the legislature-imposed barriers to "open competition" and that "If Texas is truly 'wide open' for business, our elected officials should take the appropriate steps to end these frivolous regulations in 2017." That phrasing no doubt intentionally picked to appeal to the regulation-averse Texas GOP — and setting a date to get the legislation repealed by the time the Tesla Model 3 enters production in latae 2017.
Of course, there's still plenty of resistance to be had from local dealerships, which number 1,300 across Texas with roughly 100,000 employees. Texas dealerships spent some $1 million lobbying the state government, while Tesla spent $1.3 billion. Just because the Texas Republican Party has adopted pro-Tesla positions doesn't mean the state legislature will cease bending to pressure from the dealership lobby.