A bid in Ohio to block Tesla Motors from selling cars in that state has been defeated in the Ohio State Legislature on Tuesday.
A last minute amendment to Senate Bill 137 would have prevented "a manufacturer or a subsidiary, parent, or affiliated entity of a manufacturer" from getting a license to sell cars in Ohio. Because Tesla Motors sells the Tesla Model S through direct sales, this would have prevented Tesla selling cars in Ohio.
Similar moves to prevent Tesla from selling cars are playing out in several U.S. states. Many see this as an attempt by the Automobile Dealers Associations to maintain control over the prevailing model for selling cars, through car dealerships. The ADA contends that car dealerships protect consumer interests by preventing automakers from having too much control over car sales. Tesla Motors, on the other hand, contends that traditional car dealerships are too beholden to gasoline powered cars to give the all-electric Tesla Model S the sales oomph it deserves.
The original SB 137 was a benign bill aimed at protecting the safety of people who maintain the roads. The amendment that attempted to block Tesla from selling cars in Ohio reads:
517.12 Denial of license as motor vehicle dealer, motor vehicle leasing dealer, manufactured home broker, or motor vehicle auction owner.
(A) The registrar of motor vehicles shall deny the application of any person for a license as a motor vehicle dealer, motor vehicle leasing dealer, or motor vehicle auction owner and refuse to issue the license if the registrar finds that the applicant:
(11) Is a manufacturer or a subsidiary, parent, or affiliated entity of a manufacturer. applying for a license to sell or lease new or used vehicles at retail. Nothing in this division shall prohibit a manufacturer from disposing of vehicles at wholesale at the termination of a consumer lease through a motor vehicle auction. This division shall not serve as a basis for termination, revocation, or non-renewal of a license granted prior to the effective date of this provision.
According to a posting on the Tesla Motors Club Forum by a member who attended the hearing, the amendment was defeated 12-0 allowing the original bill to pass without modification.
According to photo's posted on the Columbus Dispatch website, Tesla Motors deployed their most potent weapon to head off the amendment. They held a test drive event for members of the Ohio State Legislature, letting them drive a top-of-the-line Tesla Model S P85.