Tesla protests bills that would limit expansion

OLYMPIA — Tesla Motors enthusiasts drove their electric cars to Olympia on Monday to protest legislation they said would prevent the company from opening and operating additional facilities in Washington state.

Tesla lobbyist Daniel Witt told supporters at the Capitol that under legislation currently proposed, Tesla would not be able to expand beyond the two stores and service centers it operates in Seattle and Bellevue.

Language in House Bill 2524 and its companion Senate Bill 6272 says the Department of Licensing would no longer be able to issue additional facility licenses to Tesla because of its status as a vehicle manufacturer and not as a dealer. The company sells cars directly from the manufacturer to the consumer.

“We’re eager to see this language out of the bill,” he said.

Bill and Jean Hotchkiss of Vancouver, Wash., bought their Tesla Model S online in April 2013, a process Bill Hotchkiss called seamless.

Bill Hotchkiss said that they came to Olympia, in part, because, “it cost us nothing to get here.” The car currently sold by Tesla can go up to 265 miles on a single battery charge.

The Model S begins at about $70,000 but can top $100,000 with options. Washington state has the most Tesla Motors Inc. cars per capita in terms of sales, Witt said.

Both bills, which also clarify existing laws between car dealers and manufacturers, have passed through one committee and are in their respective Rules Committees.

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