Sales of Tesla cars in Ohio approved

By MARC KOVAC | R-C CAPITAL BUREAU Published:

COLUMBUS -- The Ohio House has signed off on legislation that would allow an electric car manufacturer -- namely, Tesla Motors -- to continue to sell directly to consumers in the state.

Senate Bill 260 passed on a vote of 88-0 and is headed toward the governor's desk.

A spokesman has indicated that Gov. John Kasich will sign it.

SB 260 generally prohibits the state's registrar of motor vehicles from granting dealers licenses to auto manufacturers who want to sell directly to customers.

But the bill will allow Tesla Motors to continue to operate in the state. The electric car company, which already has stores in Columbus and Cincinnati and another planned for Cleveland, was issued a dealers license by the state bureau of motor vehicles, despite provisions in state law requiring retailers to contract with manufacturers in order to qualify for licenses.

That decision, said Rep. Mike Dovilla (R-Berea), chairman of the committee that considered the bill, effectively opened the door for other manufacturers to sell directly to consumers in Ohio, potentially jeopardizing existing independent dealers and some 50,000-plus jobs.

"In Ohio today, there are over 40 automotive manufacturers and hundreds of new car dealerships that have operated under the laws as they've been applied for decades," Dovilla said. "Dealers and manufacturers (have made) significant investments in Ohio, and SB 260 would restore the trust of all parties who expect each entity to have a level playing field."

Marc Kovac is the Dix Capital Bureau Chief. Email him at mkovac@dixcom.com or on Twitter at OhioCapitalBlog.

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