2013 Tesla Model S
You've probably heard of electric-car maker Tesla Motors. What you may not know is that several states ban the company from opening its Tesla Stores and selling you its Model S electric luxury sedan.
More specifically, auto-dealer lobbyists in those states have made it illegal for Tesla to open its own showrooms and/or sell you a car online--which is how you buy a Tesla everywhere else.
Tesla Store Los Angeles [photo: Misha Bruk / MBH Architects]
Once upon a time, such laws protected dealers from being undercut by the makers whose cars they sold.
But Tesla is brand new, and doesn't have independent dealers--so in these states, dealers want to force the company to use them.
After all, dealers argue, it would be terrible if you could buy a new car online at a known, fixed price, just like you buy a flat-screen TV, and have it delivered to your house.
Turns out those states have plenty of other dumb laws too.
Donkeys tow broken-down Range Rover back to dealership in China. Image via The Tycho.
The state's flat ban on Tesla Motors selling cars directly to buyers is just one of several odd prohibitions--a couple of which involve unusual livestock. The state's wide-open deserts and high country do not stretch to openness for new business models.
CAMELS: It is illegal to hunt camels in Arizona. (The U.S. Army abandoned camels in the desert, which have now become wild herds.)
DONKEYS: If you have a pet donkey, you'd better know that it's illegal to let him sleep in the bathtub.
ESCALATING VIOLENCE: Are you being attacked by a burglar or criminal? You may only legally protect yourself with the same kind of weapon as he uses.
This is a pretty progressive state; it just legalized marijuana sales, right?
That didn't stop its dealers from getting a law passed in early 2010 that prevented Tesla from opening more than the single store it already had. What else does Colorado ban?
FOOD: It is illegal for liquor stores to sell any kind of food. Not even peanuts.
BLACK CARS: In Denver, you may own a black car--but you may not drive it on Sundays.
BAD SKIING: In Vail, it is illegal to crash into obstacles on a ski slope.
Tesla owners & supporters gather in Statehouse in Austin to support company [photo: John Griswell]
The Lone Star state has some of the toughest auto-dealer laws on the books.
Last year, efforts by Tesla backers to exempt Tesla from the state's ban on direct sales by carmakers failed--and the Texas legislature won't go back into session until 2015.
ATHEISTS: You cannot hold office in Texas unless you "acknowledge the existence of a Supreme Being."
CHUGGING: If you are standing up, it is illegal to take more than three sips of beer at a time.
SEX TOYS: If you own more than six sex toys or other "obscene devices," you can be charged with a felony.
While Tesla has a showroom in the fancy Tysons Corners Mall, employees are forbidden to discuss sales of the electric car. Virginia forbids any carmaker to sell cars directly to paying customers.
What else is forbidden within the state? Lots of matters related to sex, it appears.
HALLOWEEN: Children are not allowed to go trick-or-treating on Halloween.
SEX : Sexual intercourse with the lights on is illegal. It's also illegal by anyone who's not married. And it's illegal in any arrangement other than the missionary position.
TICKLING: It is illegal to tickle any woman in the state of Virginia.