Electric vehicles are quickly becoming a way of life in America, but the way some automakers want to sell those vehicles is quickly becoming a flashpoint in some states. ap news reported on a new Mississippi bill that doesn’t ban EV sales but restricts how only electric manufacturers can open new locations and sell vehicles in the state.
The state Senate approved the bill earlier this week that seeks to bar EV makers from opening new dealerships in the state unless they follow the same rules as everyone else. Governor Tate Reeves has not signed the bill, but if it passes, it would close a loophole that allows Tesla to operate a dealer-but-not-a-dealer store in the state. Republican lawmakers blame the Biden administration’s push on EV incentives and credits for letting EV brands skirt the rules.
The automaker has a location in Mississippi that the state currently classifies as a store rather than a dealership. A Republican state senator said the setup allows Tesla and others to skirt the rules and receive benefits legacy automakers do not receive. Senator Daniel Sparks said, “We’re saying that if you choose to have a brick-and-mortar dealership, you have to follow the same laws that everyone else has to follow.”
Buyers can still shop online for EVs under the bill, so Rivian, Lucid and others can continue selling directly to Mississippians. Oddly, the legislation doesn’t aim to close the few Tesla stores cited as the reason behind the bill. Nevertheless, the new physical locations would be limited to automakers willing to enter into a franchise agreement.
Although it sounds harsh on paper, Mississippi’s bill is actually not restrictive and is less aggressive than measures proposed by some state dealer associations. The Illinois Automobile Dealers Association filed a lawsuit against Rivian and Lucid in late 2021, claiming their sales practices violated state dealer laws. A judge dismissed the lawsuit, but the association appealed the decision. A bill in Georgia that would allow Rivian and others to sell directly to buyers stalled last year, despite the fact that the automaker plans to open a $5 billion factory there.