|Just minutes before Maryland’s General Assembly closed on April 13, Tesla Motors Inc. received the OK to sell its car directly to consumers.
As Automotive News has noted, the legislative bill, House Bill 235, still has to be signed into law by Gov. Larry Hogan before it goes into effect. If Gov. Hogan decides to sign HB 235, it will be a major advancement for Tesla, especially following the company’s recent ban in West Virginia.
If HB 235 is passed, Tesla would be allowed up to four licenses to sell its vehicles in Maryland. There would still be plenty of restrictions on sales, as the Washington Times has noted, but Tesla doesn’t seem to be fazed by this, since the eco-friendly car manufacturer has been slowly expanding its sales, one state at a time.
The WT has stated that Tesla has been “[waging] a state-by-state battle with the established network of traditional car dealers, who have argued Tesla’s direct-to-customer sales methods would undercut their markets and the legal protections put in place for consumers.” Tesla, however, views its direct sales method as a way to open up the economy and give consumers better deals on cars.
One of the main selling points of HB 235, according to the Times, is that Tesla’s vehicles are more environmentally friendly than nearly any other vehicle available to consumers today; this emphasis on clean energy falls in line with Maryland’s “high-income and environmentally-conscious markets.”
If Gov. Hogan chooses to sign the bill, it would likely open up Maryland’s automotive industry for more manufacturers who wish to sell cars directly to consumers. It still seems unclear whether this shift would benefit consumers more than the current sales method, but with 37 other states already allowing direct car sales, and with more consumers purchasing vehicles from online vendors and having the cars shipped across state lines, it seems that consumers are putting more value on flexibility and choice when it comes to picking out a new car.