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