Don't Mess With Texas: Tesla Comes Up Short In Effort To Sell Cars Direct To Customers

Tesla isn't having much luck messing with Texas. The electric car maker sells automobiles directly to the public rather than going through dealerships, but in order to do that, it has get lawmakers to repeal existing laws in each state that require automakers to distribute their vehicles through dealers. For the second time in two years, Tesla has failed in its efforts to do that in Texas.

The company backed a pair of bills in the legislature that would have allowed it to sidestep dealerships and sell its vehicles directly to consumers in the Lone Star state, which also happens to be the second largest U.S. car market. However, both bills never even made it to the House of Representatives or Senate for a vote.

Tesla Model X

Tesla has seen mixed success overall. While the company is having a tough time breaking into Texas, it won over Georgia, Maryland, and New Jersey this year, while attempting to lift prohibitions in Arizona, Connecticut, Michigan, and West Virginia.

"They are thwarting the will of the people," said Diarmuid O'Connell, vice president of business development for Tesla. "That it doesn't even get a fair hearing -- much less a vote -- is to me very odd and disturbing."

Dealers, on the other hand, say the laws are there to protect family owned businesses and customers from automobile makers. More importantly, they have deep pockets and plenty of political sway. Tesla has deep pockets as well and spent over $150,000 on campaign contributions between October and December of last year, but it's obviously going to take more than that to defeat the political power of dealerships in Texas.

Tesla has some time to formulate a better strategy, as the next regular legislative session in Texas is in 2017.