Tesla Store Los Angeles [photo: Misha Bruk / MBH Architects]
Well, this might upset a few martini glasses at National Automobile Dealers Association social events.
A bill passed by the California State Senate two days ago allows out-of-state car buyers to take delivery of their electric cars in California without paying any sales tax.
The legislation was approved 33-2 by the Senate; it now moves to the State Assembly.
According to the Sacramento Bee, the bill's Senate sponsor, Bob Wieckowski [D-Fremont], hopes that Tesla buyers specifically will be drawn to the state to pick up their vehicles in person.
That's an opportunity afforded to buyers of European luxury cars, and Wieckowski hopes to spur “industrial tourism" in his senate district (which includes the Tesla plant).
He envisions buyers from other parts of the U.S. visiting Tesla's assembly plant in Fremont to take delivery of their cars, then staying to see the sites.
Tesla factory, Fremont, California
Today, out-of-state Tesla buyers who take delivery within California must pay the state's 7.5-percent sales tax on the car.
When owners re-register the cars in the states they live in, they also pay any increase in the sales tax due if their home-state rate is higher. (No refund is given if home-state rates are lower.)
The new bill, SB 680, would keep the sales-tax exemption in effect until January 1, 2020, and require the buyer to take the vehicle out of the state within 30 days.
ALSO SEE: Tesla Underground: Texas Franchise Rules Make Model S Owners Skirt The Law (Oct 2013)
It specifically excludes buyers from qualifying for California's $2,500 purchase rebate for a zero-emission vehicle and its single-occupant access to carpool lanes.
Some Tesla buyers already pick up their cars at the Fremont assembly plant, but the new bill could give an incentive for such deliveries to increase.
It would apply equally to buyers who visit the state's Tesla Stores.
Tesla owners & supporters gather in Statehouse in Austin to support company [photo: John Griswell]
Due to aggressive and successful lobbying by state auto-dealer associations, it remains entirely or partially illegal for Tesla Motors to sell vehicles to end users in roughly half the states of the U.S.
The largest such market may be Texas, where Tesla buyers must take delivery of their new cars outside the state--though they are still required to pay sales tax when those cars are registered in the state.
Lone Star State electric-car buyers, meet Golden State 21st-century industry.
[hat tip: Brian Henderson]