Bill that could impact electric vehicle sales in Mississippi is due from Governor Tuesday

Published: Mar. 13, 2023 at 7:20 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Your choices for taking an electric vehicle for a test drive could stay limited if the Governor signs House Bill 401. The Governor has until Tuesday, March 14, to take action on the bill. So, we wanted to give you the rundown of the debate surrounding the potential impacts.

Tesla has just one facility in Mississippi. They call it a store rather than a dealership. That means they’re not bound by the same rules as other car companies.

“If they want to have dealerships in the state, they will have to follow the franchise laws,” explained Sen. Daniel Sparks from the Senate floor earlier this month.

But the Senate’s more than hour-long debate was mostly between Republicans.

“We’re requiring that middleman,” said opponent Sen. Jeremy England. “We’re requiring our consumers to pay that 5%. Electric vehicle manufacturers don’t use that sales model.”

Tesla’s one location would get grandfathered in. However, because their business model doesn’t include franchises, House Bill 401 could keep it at that.

Still, supporters claim:

“This is not about protection of the dealerships,” noted Sen. Scott DeLano. “This is about providing the protection for the consumer. If the electric vehicle manufacturers want to provide that same level of service that we require of all of our other manufacturers, then we welcome them to our state. We want them to come in here.”

Of note, the bill wouldn’t keep EV manufacturers from adding service locations in the state. But opponents argue you should let the consumers decide if they want to take on any risks tied to having limited service options.

“It’s not consistent with free-market conservative ideals,” said Douglas Carswell, Mississippi Center for Public Policy President and CEO.

“I understand that argument,” noted DeLano. “But I can also say that we’re not changing anything. They can go online and purchase a vehicle today, just the way that they’ve always done. We’re not limiting their accessibility to these cars.”

Even if the Governor signs the bill, it wouldn’t keep you from buying an electric car directly from the manufacturer online, whether that be Tesla or another company.

“The Governor should veto this bill because this bill is inconsistent with conservative principle. This bill is protectionist,” said Carswell.

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