It’s been a little while since Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk made any interesting declarations about product or development, which means we shouldn’t be surprised that Mr. Musk spoke of a future with Tesla Motors making pickup trucks in Texas.
For what it’s worth, Tesla neither makes pickup trucks now, nor does it make vehicles in Texas. At this point the experiment of making electric sport sedans in California has been a relative success: Tesla says that it’s now making a profit after years of red balance sheets. One of the more significant problems at this point–beyond the occasional question of range or creative accounting–is that Tesla’s unique method of selling cars might be under fire.
Dealers in Massachusetts and New York have already filed suit against Tesla, saying that Tesla’s retail setup, which uses corporate owned “galleries” that show off cars and allow people to place deposits via the internet, violates existing automotive franchise laws. In Texas, Tesla galleries are not allowed to plan test drives or talk car sales at all, and Tesla service centers can’t process warranty work in the same manner as a franchised dealer.
Musk and Tesla received two gifts this week, however, in the form of a bill in the Texas legislature that would allow Tesla (and other EV manufacturers with no pre-existing dealer network) to sell and service its own cars. Meanwhile in New York, a judge struck down the lawsuit against Tesla, saying that “dealers cannot utilize the Franchised Dealer Act as a means to sue their competitors.”
Where does Tesla go from here? South, and not in the metaphorical sense. Musk said on Wednesday, while he was in Texas supporting the bills, that Texas has the potential to become one of the company’s biggest markets, selling perhaps 1500-2000 Model Ss a year. Musk thinks that success for the Model S in Texas could pave the road for a new production plant there.
What will the plant make? If Musk gets his way, the as-yet-unbuilt Texas plant could make the as-yet-undeveloped Tesla pickup truck we’ve heard about before. Musk told Automotive News “I have this idea for a really advanced truck that has…more towing power and more carrying capacity than a gasoline or diesel truck of comparable size.” That makes Musk the second Tesla exec (behind designer Franz von Holzhausen) to mention the truck in one year. Does it mean that this will happen? Not necessarily, but we do like the sound of it.
Source: Tesla via Twitter, Automotive News (Subscription required)
By Ben Timmins