Texas law currently prohibits consumers from buying cars directly from manufacturers like Ford, GM, Toyota or Tesla. Instead, Texans must purchase their new vehicle at a franchised automotive dealership. In a state that prides itself on freedom of choice and liberty, it is actually illegal to walk into a Tesla gallery and purchase one of their vehicles directly.
Auto dealers in Texas are a very powerful political force, donating millions of dollars to legislators and local charitable causes. Furthermore, in a state such as Texas, with a rich history and close relationship with the oil and gas industry, Tesla and the “electric car revolution” faced serious branding challenges with the grassroots stakeholders who were much-needed allies in the company’s pursuit of free market reforms.
Public Blueprint has utilized the full force of its services—government relations, communications, digital and grassroots advocacy—to create, promote, and sustain the “direct sales” of automobiles issue in the face of one of the most entrenched political lobbies in the state.
The “direct sales” movement has seen numerous wins since its inception. In 2016, language in support of this issue was added to the Republican Party of Texas Platform, earning approval by over 90% of the delegates in attendance at their state convention. Furthermore. youth-oriented center-right organizations have quickly gravitated to the issue and have added “direct sales” to their legislative priorities and lobbying efforts.
Finally, in the 2017 legislative session, a sweetheart deal for billionaire Warren Buffett was being fast-tracked through the legislature that would have effectively carved out his interests from the archaic dealership laws in Texas. If passed this bill would have effectively ended the broader conversation on “direct sales” important to our client. To prevent this from happening, Public Blueprint worked with grassroots leaders across the state to mobilize opposition to the so-called “Buffett Bill”. These efforts culminated in the death of the bill and ultimately brought more attention to the need to seriously address the “direct sales” issue.