Tesla Motors, the maker of the Model S sedan, is once again using the promise of a new pickup truck plant as a way to coax state regulators into relaxing traditional dealer franchise laws.
After offering Texas a new pickup truck plant in exchange for the ability to sell directly to customers, Tesla has taken its act on the road and is now offering a similar deal to Ohio.
In an interview with the Columbus Dispatch, Neil Clark, a lobbyist representing Tesla, revealed that Ohio is “under serious consideration” for Tesla’s proposed pickup truck plant, but only if state regulars shoot down a new bill that would bar the company’s selling model. Set to hit the House floor for a vote as early as this afternoon, Senate Bill 137 would bar Tesla’s direct sales method.
Unlike most automakers, which sell their vehicles through franchise dealerships, Tesla wants to own its retail locations and sell directly to customers. However, most states have laws against that kind of manufacture involvement, which has sparked a number of legal battles, including in Texas.
Ohio doesn’t currently have a law that bans an automaker from owning its own dealership, but SB 137 would change that. Tesla is scheduled to open its first Ohio dealership in Columbus this week, with a second slated to open its doors in Cincinnati on December 13. If voted into law, SB 137 wouldn’t take effect for 100 days, meaning those stores could remain open. However, Tesla’s plans to open locations in Cleveland, Akron and Dayton would be in serious jeopardy.
Though not ‘truck country’ like Texas, Tesla says Ohio offers “a compelling case” for a pickup truck factory. Automakers like Honda and Chrysler have major operations in Ohio, and many of the industry’s suppliers are located in the Buckeye State.
It should be noted that Tesla has yet to confirm concrete plans to produce a plug-in pickup truck.