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Tesla, Utah Auto Dealers Back At The Negotiating Table Over Licensing

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Tesla’s Model S is the top selling electric vehicle in the U.S., but Utahns hoping to get their hands on one have been out of luck thanks to an obscure state law. That's why a Utah lawmaker is bringing back a bill that would allow the California-based automaker to sell its cars directly.

For three years, the company has tried and failed to dismantle the state’s Franchise Act, which protects third-party dealerships and prohibits direct sales by manufacturers.

Rep. Kim Coleman, R-West Jordan, had tried to chip away at the law in previous sessions, but faced intense backlash from the autodealership lobby. A new bill she’s introducing this year might finally be the key to compromise.

“This year it originated with the auto dealers,” she said of H.B. 369, published on Monday. "So, for them, to start out with a position, and they've been negotiating with Tesla ... and I'm more of a facilitator this year."

Coleman’s bill would create a provision that allows Tesla to apply for a direct-sale manufacturer license.

“Everybody, all the parties feel like this happens this year," she said. 

Demand for electric vehicles is on the rise, but they still makes up less than 1 percent of Utah’s total fleet. If it passes, Coleman’s legislation could put even more EVs on the road.

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