The luxury electric car company Tesla announced plans today to rapidly expand its network of “super-charging stations” across the country, including a number of spots in Texas. But the company still can’t sell to consumers in Texas directly, despite a strong effort to lobby state lawmakers to change the rules.
The charging stations are meant to allow drivers to go from city to city, and the company is planning to put them outside of Austin, Dallas, San Antonio and Houston. In fact, the company plans to add so many charging stations that within six months, they say it will be possible to travel from Los Angeles to New York in a Tesla. The stations charge a car for 20 to 30 minutes, allowing a Tesla S to run for around three hours of driving, and are free for Tesla owners. (Other electric cars, however, cannot charge at the stations.) That’s significantly faster than existing public charging stations in Texas, but Tesla’s East Coast network of charging stations was negatively reviewed in the New York Times earlier this year. And that review was subsequently criticized by the paper’s public editor. Regardless, the controversy doesn’t appear to have slowed Tesla down: the company posted its first profitable quarter recently, earned a near-perfect score from Consumer Reports for the Model S, and paid off its federal loans nine years early.
But if you want to go to a Tesla dealership in Texas and take a test drive or buy a car, you’ll be disappointed. Because of state franchise laws, car makers aren’t allowed to own their own dealerships in Texas (as well as many other states). While Tesla lobbied hard this legislative session for an exception, they weren’t successful.