OKALHOMA CITY (KFOR) – There’s a potential road block ahead for Tesla and those who own one in Oklahoma.
An Oklahoma legislature committee gave the green light to a bill that could shut down auto-makers from selling directly to consumers. At least, that’s how it’s currently written.
“Representing and helping to protect franchise auto dealers is my goal here,” said Rep. Mike Dobrinski R-Kingfisher.
The whopping 70-page proposal passed unanimously through committee Thursday. The language in it appears to want to do away with electric car service centers in Oklahoma. That means Tesla owners would have to go out of state for service or to buy a car. However, Rep. Dobrinski said he doesn’t actually intend for that to happen. He just wanted to get people’s attention.
“What it was effective at doing is getting Tesla, along with General Motors and Ford and other manufacturers, involved in a conversation that they haven’t been willing to have for several years,” said the Dobrinski.
“It’s no attention grabber because this is not the first law of it’s kind. This has been going on in the country for years now,” said Sam Davis, a law student and Tesla enthusiast.
Dobrinski said the bill’s real goal is to protect local dealerships. As a 30-year former dealer himself, the representative said dealerships have had to be regulated and licensed in Oklahoma for the last 70-years. Right now, direct shippers, like Tesla, are not licensed and regulated by the Oklahoma Motor Vehicle Commission.
“And that’s going to cut out many of the dealers that we have in place, many of the locations where there’s already service and basically, again, make it a metropolitan only offering,” said the representative.
“He has skin in the game, doesn’t he?” asked Cheryl McInnis, who loves the Tesla she’s had for two years now.
McInnis and Davis said cutting out the middle man was one of the reasons why they chose Tesla in the first place, among other things.
“I bought my Tesla in three minutes with a few clicks online,” McInnis said.
“What [this bill] is really doing is it’s preventing innovation in Oklahoma and it’s preventing competition,” said Davis.
The two enthusiasts said they’re worried about what this could mean for them.
“The government should not command what car you get to drive. It makes no sense,” said Davis.
“This whole deal, ‘I’m here from the government, I want to help you.’ No thank you,” said McInnis as she smirked.
Dobrinski also said because there are no regulations on Teslas in Oklahoma, if your electric car has a problem and there’s no way to fix it, your only recourse would be to sue the company. Dobrinski said he hopes to change that.