It wasn’t quite the battle of the Alamo, but it was close. Tesla made a major push to get legislation passed this year that would allow it to open direct sales stores in Texas. It hired more lobbyists than Houston has oil rigs but in the end, the Texas car dealers had Elon Musk and his minions outgunned. Since the Texas legislature only meets every two years, the company is now officially shut out of opening Tesla stores in Texas until 2017 at the earliest.
It’s not like the Musk-ovites were looking to upset the apple cart completely. Their carefully crafted proposal to the legislature asked for permission to open just a few stores in selected cities. The law would apply only to it and no one else. It thought its low key, under the radar approach would avoid calling down the wrath of the Texas auto dealers association, but the plan didn’t work. The result is that Texas is stuck with what The Atlantic calls “a government sponsored price fixing cartel among dealers” that leaves consumers unwittingly paying a substantial premium above market prices in order to pad corporate profits.
Is it strange that a state with so many so-called Tea Party representatives in its legislature would vote in favor of state sponsored interference in the marketplace? Not really. As The Atlantic points out, those clear eyed ideologues never counted on the army of lobbyists that infect every state capitol in America. Those Armani clad mouthpieces can overwhelm the most fervent believers. Here’s what one frustrated Texan had to say about the way things went down in Austin this year.
“Texans like me have to buy their Tesla elsewhere – kind of like the colonists did with tea. Tea Partiers have the revolt backwards. Today, Tesla is playing the part of the Americans. Franchise dealers are the Tories. Americans will eventually win. I’d like to throw the franchise dealers and their paid lobbyists into a big pot of hot tea. A government telling me I can’t buy a car directly from a company just because that company will not adhere to an archaic franchise dealer system is tyranny.”
Amen to that.