Tesla Can Continue Selling Cars Straight To Consumers In Indiana For At Least A Year

Electric car-seeking Indiana residents can still buy their new Tesla without having to go out of state, at least for the time being. State senators have tabled a bill that would have banned the carmaker from selling vehicles under its current, often controversial, straight-to-consumer business model. 

The Indianapolis Star reports that the Indiana State Senate Commerce and Technology Committee decided to put the bill before a study committee.

Under the bill, Tesla’s dealer license would have expired in 2018 and the company would have to either adopt a franchise dealership model or stop selling cars in the state.

Thursday’s action essentially means the measure won’t be considered until at least next year and that Tesla can continue operating its two-year-old showroom in the state.

“We are trying to make what we are doing here fair to all,” said Sen. Jim Buck, chairman of the committee, who had supported the ban, noting that he had been on the receiving end of “incivility” from Tesla supporters recently.

Buck, and the bill’s author Sen. Todd Maron, say the bill has broad support from automakers and dealerships, including General Motors, which operates four plants in the state.

Still, the lawmakers say the bill wasn’t about shutting down Tesla, but creating rules for all manufacturers.

“No one in this state wants to stop innovation,” Buck said. “But we do want and always have tried to make a level playing field.”

Tesla’s general counsel told The Star in a statement that the company looks forward to the next time the bill is considered.

The electric car company’s direct-to-consumer sales approach has come under fire in several states. Earlier this month, the company applied for a dealer license in Michigan, a state that previously enacted a law that included an amendment explicitly banning Tesla from selling vehicles in the state unless it was through a franchised dealership.

The measure effectively shut the door on Tesla’s direct-sales approach in the state, meaning residents had to go out of state to buy one of the cars. That, or Tesla would need to make arrangements with franchised dealerships to sell their cars — a move that appears to be taking shape now.

Several months later, in May 2015, the Federal Trade Commission sent a letter to lawmakers in the state, urging them to consider repealing the ban.

The FTC staff contended that consumers would more fully benefit from a “complete repeal of the prohibition on direct sales,” noting that “consumers are the ones best situated to choose for themselves both the vehicles they want to buy and how they want to buy them.”

Proposal to ban Tesla’s direct sales model gets tabled [Indianapolis Star]