Texas is the country’s second-largest state in terms of population, with an estimated 27.4 million people. It ranks only behind California. And, it has long been known as a place where entrepreneurs are celebrated.
So, why is there so much bad blood between Texas and Tesla founder Elon Musk?
This past week, Texas brought back a $2,500 tax incentive for the purchase of an electric vehicle. That means Texans can receive up to $10,000 in tax breaks, including federal incentives, for purchasing a car that plugs in rather than runs solely on gasoline.
But, Texans will have to purchase something other than the country’s most famous electric vehicles. The incentive only applies to vehicles purchased from car dealers in Texas, and Tesla only sells online.
It’s tried twice to get the Texas Legislature to give it permission to operate the Tesla way, but it simply can’t get a break. Just a few weeks back, a Tesla-backed proposal to allow any automaker to sell to consumers failed to move forward..
To be sure, Texas has showrooms in Texas, as well as a service center, and there are Teslas on the road. But to own a Tesla in Texas, owners have to go through a multi-step process that includes buying the car online, paying state sales tax to Texas, registering the vehicle in Texas, and arranging financing if the owner isn’t paying upfront.
On the surface, the decision by Texas to keep out Elon Musk’s company makes no sense. He’s one of the world’s most notable figures, just the kind of go-getter that Texans admire. If the legislature wants to give people a break to buy electric vehicles, why wouldn’t it allow Texans to buy the buzziest ones?
I talked about this last week on Texas Standard, the public radio magazine program heard on stations across Texas. Listen to my interview here. Continue reading