Last week, it looked like Missouri would join the list of states where Tesla Motors would not be allowed to sell its all-electric vehicles directly to consumers. Without warning, language was inserted into a bill about off-road vehicles what would have prevented direct sales in the state. Tesla called it a "sneak attack" and tried to get supporters to let lawmakers know the law was a bad idea.
Thanks to some digging by Tesla fans over at the Tesla Motors Club, it became clear that one of the main drivers of the anti-Tesla legislation was conservative state senator Mike Kehoe, a former Ford and Lincoln-Mercury auto dealer. For some time, Kehoe has been asking the Missouri Department of Revenue if Tesla should have gotten a license to operate its one store in the state (in St. Louis) and said that the automaker's moves were, "clearly designed to circumvent the traditional franchise model for the distribution and sale of new motor vehicles." The DOR responded by saying, "It is clear under Missouri law that traditional manufacturers who already have franchised dealerships in the state may not sell cars directly to consumers. It is not clear that the statues apply to a seller like Tesla, which apparently has not entered into franchise relationships with independent dealers." After Kehoe got that response, it seems, he added the language to the bill. You can read the bill here.
"It is not clear that the statues apply to a seller like Tesla" – Missouri Department of Revenue
The tide may be turning against the proposed law, though. Tesla has apparently hired 10 lobbyists to makes its case. Local newspaper The Kansas City Star published an opinion column yesterday in support of the automaker. "As a business offering something new and better for the environment overall, Tesla should have been given allowances to operate in a different way in the state," the paper wrote. And the state House Republican majority leader, John Diehl, says he has no plans to move the bill forward because lawmakers are worried it would put a limit on the free market and have unintended consequences.