A Utah lawmaker says she will likely bring back a bill that would allow Tesla and other vehicle manufacturers to sell their own cars after the state Supreme Court upheld a prohibition on direct sales.
“I’m disappointed that we remain in the situation that a unique manufacturer cannot sell their product in the state of Utah," says Rep. Kim Coleman, R-West Jordan, who introduced legislation in 2015 and 2016 seeking to change the law.
In a 5-0 decision on Monday, the Utah State Supreme Court affirmed the statute that blocks new car manufacturers from operating their own dealerships. The ruling struck a blow to electric vehicle maker Tesla who had challenged the law.
Coleman says the court’s decision means she’ll probably try again during next year’s session.
“I would definitely like to get this across the finish line,” she says. “I think there is a growing desire to see this change.”
Tesla built a sleek new showroom on State Street two years ago as it sought to petition the state to let its own subsidiary, called Tesla Motors Utah, sell the cars. The Utah Tax Commission denied its application.
The court’s justices did leave the door open to Tesla trying to obtain its own license without a subsidiary or franchise.
But Coleman says the rule doesn’t just affect Tesla. Other Utah manufacturers like Provo-based Kirkham Motor Sports and Vanderhall Motor Works, which make racing vehicles, have had to sell outside of the state.
“We know that consumer behavior has drastically changed, and people buy products differently now than they did even five years ago,” she says. “We need to change state regulations that prohibit new ways of doing business.”
The Utah Auto Dealers Association did not return a call seeking comment on the decision.
A Tesla spokesman in a statement called the ruling disappointing but said the company will pursue “all options to operate in Utah without restriction.” The company will continue limited sales through its used car license at its Salt Lake dealership.