In the past half hour an amendment to Ohio Senate Bill 137 — which would have made it impossible for Tesla Motors [NASDAQ:TSLA] to sell its cars direct to customers without using a third-party independent dealer — was defeated, allowing the original bill to pass 12-0 without negatively curtailing Tesla’s ability to sell its Model S in Ohio.
Senate Bill 137, a bi-partisan, benign bill designed to improve the safety of the men and women who look after Ohio’s roads, received a last-minute addition last week designed to halt the sale of Tesla electric cars in the state. But after successful campaigning from Tesla, EV advocates and fans in Ohio, the Senate cast out the proposed amendment to the bill before passing it 12-0.
Writing on the Tesla Motors Club Forum, forum member Ryan — aka PokerBroker — who attended the hearing in Ohio — posted the following, simple message to signal the defeat of the amendment in the Ohio Senate.
“Ohio strikes down the amendment to SB137 which would limit Tesla’s direct sales and then passes the unamended bill 12-0.”
He later added:
“No official announcement yet as the greater session was to continue. I’m sure there will be official news soon,” telling us that “It sounds like, although the amendment was defeated today, we will likely see it introduced at a later date as a stand-alone bill. The auto dealer special interest groups won’t give up so easily… but neither will we!”
Tesla had written to its Ohio customers and fans yesterday asking them to attend the Senate Bill 137 hearing, which was originally scheduled for tomorrow. But shortly after Tesla had sent its email asking for support, the bill’s hearing was moved forward a day, presumably to try and scupper any chances of the amendment to the bill being defeated.
But as The Columbus Despatch (via GreenCarReports) reports, Tesla had already put into play the biggest weapon in its arsenal to persuade lawmakers that passing the amendment was a bad thing: its Model S.
We’re not sure if it was the Model S P85 test drives Tesla offered members of the Ohio legislature yesterday outside the Ohio Statehouse, Tesla’s growing base of contented customers, or just plain common sense, but we’re glad to see this particular attempt to ban Tesla from selling in Ohio quashed at the first hurdle.
That doesn’t mean however that the battle between powerful auto dealer associations and Tesla Motors is over yet: with plenty more states to fight for a right to sell its Model S and subsequent cars in, this particular victory is just the latest match in an agonisingly long game.