An Indiana state Senate committee last week effectively tabled a controversial proposal to prevent Tesla Motors from selling cars in Indiana under its current business model.
Sen. Jim Buck, chairman of the Senate Commerce and Technology Committee, had supported a version of the bill that would have banned manufacturers from selling directly to consumers. That version of the legislation would have caused Tesla’s dealer license to expire in 2018 and forced the Palo Alto, Calif.-based Company to either adopt a franchise dealer model or stop selling cars in Indiana. Tesla has a 2-year-old showroom at Fashion Mall at Keystone.
Buck opened the committee hearing by saying he has been on the receiving end of “incivility” from Tesla supporters this week, as the bill received national attention.
Buck and the bill’s author, Rep. Kevin Mahan, agreed to put the issue before a study committee. That means the legislature won’t consider a ban on direct auto sales until at least next year.
“We are trying to make what we are doing here fair to all,” Buck said.
Todd Maron, the general counsel for Tesla, said in a prepared statement that automaker looks forward to a summer session where the bill is supposed to be reconsidered.
General Motors, which has four facilities in Indiana, supports a ban on direct auto sales. It argues that Tesla has a unique advantage in Indiana. Existing state law prevents General Motors and other automakers from opening sales centers, such as Teslas, which would compete with its dealerships.