05.16.13 9:38 PM ET
North Carolina’s Ridiculous Tesla Ban
North Carolina’s legislature is being mocked for a proposed ban on Tesla's electric sportscars. Technically, it’s a ban on automakers selling cars directly to consumers without going through a licensed dealer, but because Tesla is the only automaker that does this, it’s pretty blatantly a Tesla ban. It should also come as no surprise who’s backing it: the North Carolina Car Dealers Association, which, Slate points out, gave $8,000 to state Sen. Tom Apodaca, the bill’s sponsor.
In fairness to North Carolina, they’re not the first state to try this. A similar bill just failed in the Minnesota legislature, but dealers there are still threatening to sue. The Massachusetts State Automobile Dealer’s Association already tried that, when they sued to shut down a Tesla showroom in 2012. They lost. Same story in New York. Even if North Carolina’s law goes into effect--it passed the Senate on Monday--it may not stand up to legal scrutiny. As Forbes points out, the bill would likely be ruled an unconstitutional attempt to regulate interstate commerce.
So why does North Carolina get all the ridicule if so many other states have tried to do the same thing? Well, after years of being told electric cars can’t compete in in the free market, there’s something funny about North Carolina suddenly decrying “unfair competition” from Tesla and claiming auto dealers, of all people, as a class in need of special protection. Also, North Carolina has a history of ridiculous climate-change-related legislation.