Texas is one of four states in the running for the economic development prize of the year, the 'giga factory' being proposed by Tesla motors to mass produce electric car batteries at high enough levels to make its electric cars more affordable. The plant will employ 6500 people.
But there is a fear that Texas' bizarre auto sales restrictions could doom efforts to locate the factory here.
Texas is the only state in the country which does not allow carmakers to sell automobiles directly to the public. Tesla sells its cars out of mall 'showrooms,' much like you would buy a computer at Best Buy or a tie at JC Penney.
The Texas Occupations Code requires that new vehicles be sold only through franchised dealerships, and does not allow direct sales to customers.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk personally appealed to the Legislature last year to change the law, but to do avail.
"Texas prides itself on being the freest state in the nation," Musk said. "But it actually has the most restrictive laws in the nation when it comes to car sales."
State Rep. Jason Villalba (R-Dallas) has reached out to Musk and told him that Texas is the best state in the country for him to locate his plant, based on the state's low regulation, no personal or business income tax, and at the Center of North America, making distribution of batteries across the U.S., Mexico and Canada more efficient.
"We wanted to make sure that he understood that Texas provides the best economic ecosystem for a company like Tesla motors to move to," Villalba told 1200 WOAI news. "We are optimistic that we can bring 6500 new jobs to the great state of Texas."
Musk already has a presence in Texas. He is also head of Space-X, the private space flight company which has facilities near Waco, and is considering the South Texas coast for a planned 'space port.' The Legislature last year approved several measures to make it easier for Musk to locate his space port in Texas, but lawmakers wouldn't budge on the question of direct car sales to customers.
Texas is one of four states in the running for the battery plant, but for reasons having nothing to do with the state's business climate or location. Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and Nevada have been singled out because those states have the sunshine needed for the solar power and the wind needed for wind turbines that Musk plans to use to run the factory, and the space needed to power the massive plant.