Maryland’s governor has signed a bill to allow Tesla Motors to skip third-party dealerships and sell directly to customers. Governor Larry Hogan signed House Bill 235 into law last week, which will allow California-based Tesla to open up as many as four dealerships in Maryland starting Oct. 1, according to the International Business Times.
“These laws not only guarantee that people have optimum choice on which vehicles to buy, but also how they buy them,” wrote Diarmuid O’Connell, Tesla’s vice president of corporate & business development, in an e-mail to AutoblogGreen. “These laws will additionally allow companies like Tesla to introduce new automotive technology to more people and educate consumers about the benefits of electric cars. We hope this momentum combined with encouragement from independent entities, such as the Federal Trade Commission, will lead to direct sales in other states such as Connecticut, Michigan, Texas, and Arizona.”
Oddly, unlike other states where Tesla has fought for rights to sell direct to customers, House Bill 235 was supported by the Maryland Automobile Dealers Association, in part because there’s a catch. An automaker like Tesla is allowed to open only four dealerships, and they can only sell EVs. States like Georgia have recently agreed to allow Tesla direct-to-customer vehicle sales, while states such as West Virginia and Texas remain steadfast against it.
Another party against direct-to-customer vehicle sales is General Motors, which lobbied against Maryland’s HB 235. That automaker has maintained that all automakers should operate under the same rules and just because Tesla sells electric vehicles, it shouldn’t be given any extra allowances when it comes to distribution channels. HB 235 was approved by the state’s legislature in April.