Raleigh, N.C. — Legislation that would have opened the door to a half-dozen Tesla dealerships in North Carolina has been put on hold less than 24 hours after it emerged in a Senate committee.
Lobbyists for automobile dealers and manufacturers, who were at odds over the bill, said they expect it has been shelved for the rest of this waning legislative session. Sen. Trudy Wade, R-Guilford, who co-chairs the Senate Committee on Commerce and Insurance, said there were just too many questions about the bill to move forward.
Wade said that doesn't guarantee it's gone for the session, but she said people needed more time to read and discuss the bill.
"I think it was moving a little fast," she said.
The bill debuted publicly in Wade's committee on Wednesday. A lobbyist for the auto manufacturers said he saw it for the first time late last week after Tesla, which makes electric vehicles, and representatives of the auto dealership industry negotiated it.
State law generally forbids manufacturers from selling direct to customers, requiring them to sell through a third-party dealer. Tesla has pressed that issue in North Carolina and in other states, seeking to sell direct. It has one sales facility in Raleigh, but state auto dealers objected when it tried to add a second in Charlotte.
The compromise bill would give Tesla six exemptions to the state's dealership requirements. If the issue is not addressed this session, it's a good bet the matter comes back up during the next one.
"We continue to push to expand our locations in North Carolina and advocate for consumers who want the option to buy electric vehicles throughout the state. In the meantime, we continue to serve our customers in North Carolina at our Raleigh and Charlotte facilities while we work to expand and grow these operations through the legislature and the courts," a Tesla spokesperson said in an email to WRAL News.