Texas must lift ban on Tesla electric vehicles


Where there is progress, there is pushback. Texas demonstrated this very principle when lawmakers banned the sale of Tesla electric cars by citing a violation of dealer franchise laws. In doing so, they have effectively curbed their chances of combating global warming.

Unlike gas-operated cars, electric cars do not depend on oil. Tesla, in particular, has developed a zero emission vehicle with the charming look of a million-dollar sports car. Motor Trend named it the Car of the Year for 2013, calling it a “remarkable automobile.” Though a time existed when only celebrities like Leonardo DiCaprio could afford such a beauty, the release of the Model S allowed middle-class Americans to make the switch from their quintessential Ford or Honda. It’s no wonder that the oil industry is scrambling at the sight of these vehicles.

By attacking the way in which Tesla sells their cars, Texas has found a way to halt the electric car line’s burgeoning growth. Unlike regular car companies, Tesla has eliminated the middle man. They hope to sell their cars directly to consumers, so that Tesla representatives can explain their product more thoroughly. Tesla argues that the typical car salesman is “prejudiced against electric cars,” and that this is the reason they only allow showrooms to parade their vehicles. But according to MSN, dealers feel that “the traditional franchise system benefits car buyers because it creates competition between dealerships selling similar products.”

It’s time that Texas paid more attention to the well-being of the planet than the well-being of businesses. In the name of protecting car dealerships and companies, lawmakers have fought off the electric car line, but the public cannot overlook the hidden motives.

Examining Texas’ past shows that oil companies have played their hand in orchestrating this specific scheme to eradicate Tesla from the market. According to NPR, Texas oil producers have fought several pieces of legislation aimed at helping the environment. When the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service suggested adding the dunes sagebrush lizard to the Endangered Species list, the “oil companies argued that protecting the dunes to save the lizard would halt or significantly hinder oil production.” Furthermore, an investigation by Texans of Public Justice discovered that 19 cents of every dollar spent on lobbying went to the energy and natural resources industry.

Oil companies are doing a sensational job of protecting their interests because they see Tesla as a threat to their own growth. Companies such as Tesla offer consumers an alternative that will heal instead of hurt our environment.

States such as Colorado and Virginia have begun to follow the Lone Star State’s lead. But the American people are not entirely powerless. Tesla’s website urges environmental enthusiasts in the state of Texas to help by calling their state representative or senator and “register their support” for Senate Bill 1659 and House Bill 3351, two pieces of legislation aimed at fighting these restrictions.

Only time will tell if sleek electric cars will speckle our streets, or if consumers will continue to gravitate toward cars with traditional gas engines. Until then, it is time to fight for our home — our planet — rather than the prosperity of oil tycoons.

 

Rini Sampath is the editorial director and majoring in international relations (global business).

Follow Rini Sampath on Twitter @RiniSampath

  • I support the introduction of EV’s. I own a LEAF and soon realized after test driving the vehicle that this *IS* the future of automobiles. Tesla have created a superb vehicle worthy of much praise and success.

    While I agree with the articles title, the reasoning is not to my taste. I believe attaching the green ‘save the planet’ moniker to EV’s both limits sales to those who are green oriented, and also risks losing the marketing message altogether if people believe that EV’s are not truly zero emission and as green as advertised. They aren’t totally green, nothing except nature is, it’s a losing argument. Attaching the green message makes EV’s a political target, which harms their adoption rate.

    I’d prefer to see the cars sold on other merits, such as superior performance, quieter, fun to drive. Appeal to the emotional reasons to buy them. That’s how they sell regular cars and beer. Why not EV’s?

    • e2

      @JPWhite:

      Probably the difference is what humans have on their minds. Some think of themselves, of their families, and friends. Then of course it’s easier to look at electric cars as being bought by customers because of the user advantages only (financial reasons, performance, quietness etc).

      Still there are some, who look beyond themselves, or the immediate circle of persons around them. There are some serious problems, and lots of human beings suffer, in the USA, as well as in other countries. Some humans have that on their minds as well.

      The MIT’s Laboratory for Aviation and the Environment released a study that 53,000 early deaths are attributed to exhaust from cars and trucks, annually, in the USA. 53,000 people die unnecessarily. For some, who look further than just at themselves, that matters. Electricity generation from fossil fuels also creates pollution that can have these effects, but at least electric cars are able to be powered by renewables, many people already use the electricity from the photovoltaic panels of their own home. And as the electricity grid hopefully gets cleaned up (more and more renewables), electric cars will become greener and greener every year automatically. BTW, in United Kingdom, it’s more than 5000 deaths from car exhaust each year, in Germany, it’s more than 5000 deaths as well. So this is an international phenomenon, and that’s why it’s positive for those who care about it that more and more electric cars are being sold worldwide.

      And that’s just the immediate deaths. There are so many more consequences of car pollution (along with other pollution factors). For example, there already are on average 11 days every year, where air quality in the Los Angeles area is rated flat-out „unhealthy“, according to airnow.gov. Already 12.7% of adults, and 16.1% of children in California have asthma. That bears economic consequences, as well. The health care costs because of this are enormous, and these so-called “externalities” have to be paid by everyone (all people on the same health care plan, or by the public through disability benefits etc). But those economic consequences are minor to the human lives affected by it. Imagine all the suffering, from all these people being ill, from needing health treatments, for all the rest of their lives.

      And then there’s the global consequences. When human beings living f.e. on pacific islands with a maximum elevation above sea level of 12 or 18 feet have to face more and more and stronger and stronger storms to deal with, and face that eventually with the sea level rising they or their children will just lose their homes and will have to leave their drowned island forever to seek asylum somewhere else, because of the man-made effects of global warming? How must that feel, as the inhabitants of these islands often do absolutely drive no cars or have no industries, it’s not them causing the loss of their land and home, it’s because of the actions of other people on this planet? There are so many consequences, and so many concrete examples of it…

      Of course nobody expects Nissan to put any of this into a Leaf ad. Human beings who don’t have anything on their mind outside their own circle of persons in their lives won’t care, and the ones who do have persons beyond themselves on their mind already know. But at least to mention it now and then, that electric cars are environmentally friendly, that should be allowed.

      It’s not a losing argument. Electric cars can be cleaner than any internal combustion engine can ever be.

      And it’s important to mention it. Maybe at least shortly in marketing, but longer at least in conversations outside of sales, like here. Especially for the reason in order to not dumb it down to the “I’m all about myself” world view of those who have that mindset, but in opposition to confront them at least now and then that there are other human beings as well, and that other human beings matter just as much as they do themselves as a human being, and that there are so many human beings in the world who suffer unnecessarily. One doesn’t have to be one of them or to wait until one is one of them to do something about it, let’s go ahead now and make the world a cleaner, better place for the human beings who live in it.

  • Paul Scott

    @kippy ohr, your diatribe is unwarranted. You specifically avoided discussing the points of the article which are clearly true. If that’s all you have, then please spare us further spittle.

    The truth is that the oil industry spends millions lobbying Congress and many state houses to get laws passed that protect their interests, often at the expense of the general public. Our military spends $80 billion each year protecting access to the world’s oil. This is exclusive of wars, by the way. The Iraq war would not have been fought if Iraq had the same amount of oil as North Korea. We spent $2.1 trillion on that war, none of which you pay when you buy gas. This is due to lobbying from the oil companies.

    Texas car dealers were laughing at Tesla just two years ago claiming their electric cars were “toys of the rich”. Now that Tesla has a car on the market that is the best car in history, they crying for protection and spending good money lobbying to make sure they get it. Pathetic! If they were REAL capitalists, they’d embrace the competition and build a better car, but they can’t and they won’t. They are proving to be bullies who go crying to momma when a real man punches them in the face.

    I hope Tesla kicks their butts into insolvency, the sooner the better.

  • I agree with this article. Thanks for bringing this up. Electric cars, plug-in cars, hybrids, these are the cars of the future. We need to embrace them, not try to stay away from them. I took a Tesla Model S for a test drive, and these are amazing cars. if you love gadgets, sleek cars, and a roller coast ride like acceleration you should check it out. Very cool.

    Eric
    Los Angeles

  • kippy ohr

    What a pathetic leftist ideology this author has been addicted to…
    this type of stuff does NOT belong in a place of higher learning like USC.
    It is more like something that you’d see in CUBA … where everyone else is to blame for the worlds ills….
    esp. the USA, rich people, white males, straight people, Texas, etc.
    This kind of diatribe is so predictable of these pious, holier-than-thou lefties who “know more” than anyone else.
    Seriously…talk rationally with the “other side” so that we can all understand the Truth of the matter.
    But please spare us the IDEOLOGICAL garbage. We’ve ALL heard it before. It’s boring & it’s clearly not true.

    • Observer

      Wow Kippy, what an ignorant, rambling diatribe. Have you ever driven a Tesla? Are you a Texas dealer? Get over it.