Why You Can’t Buy A Tesla In South Carolina

The bottom line: The Car Dealer Lobbyists

That’s what it all boils down to.   The states with the biggest car dealership and oil company presence have paid… I mean “talked to the”… legislators in their state to make sure that pesky little electric car company does not cut into their business.   Originally states passed laws to protect dealers.

Back in the early 50’s the “Big Three” wanted to focus on building cars so they franchised sales to dealers.    The dealers would spend their own money to introduce a brand of car they loved to a local market.   They spent a lot of money and time to get people to love their Ford or Chevy and make sales.

Then they got scared.  The car manufacturers would tell them they had to take cars nobody wanted but they built anyway like the Pinto or they’d stop getting ANY cars.   Even worse, the manufacturers threatened to open a competing dealership right next door.   And just like that the lawyers and lobbyists were involved and legislation was created to protect the dealers.

What people didn’t anticpate, which legislators often do not when paid to write laws, was that dealers like Hendrick here in the Southeast would become billion-dollar companies.   Or that some manufacturers, like Tesla, would never allow franchises and thus not pose unfair competition to a “small local guy that built up brand awareness for them”.

So here we are today with 6 states having an outright ban on Tesla selling cars to consumers.  It is no coincence all 6 states have a huge “legacy auto industry” presence such as Michigan with the Big Three auto makers, Texas with the oil industry, and South Carolina with the largest auto dealer in the nation.

Interesting twist, North Carolina also is under the thumb of Hendrick but The State also has significant ties to the financial industry.   The battle has gone back-and-forth with Tesla banned from selling in some counties but not others.    I guess Elon Musk’s background as a financial services billionare is a fairly even battle with Hendrick’s dealership influence.    At the moment you can drive 3 hours from Charleston to buy your Tesla in North Carolina.  For now.

Here is an excellent article from EcoWatch that explains it in more detail.


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Charleston SC Tesla Owner? Join the club.

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