Rivian plans to build electric trucks in Georgia, but it won't be able to sell them there unless the state's franchise laws are changed.
Current laws prohibit automakers from selling cars directly to customers, but senators have filed legislation to change that, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported Friday. Senate Bill 398 would permit direct sales, allowing automakers to sidestep franchised dealerships.
This comes just over a month after Rivian announced plans for a factory near Atlanta. Construction is scheduled to start this summer, with the goal of starting production in 2024. Georgia Governor Brian Kemp has already asked the state to spend $125 million on land and training costs for the factory as part of an incentive package for Rivian, the Journal-Constitution noted.
Rivian has lobbied for rule changes that would allow direct sales, as did Tesla in 2015, the paper noted, adding that another piece of legislation to allow direct sales failed in Georgia's House of Representatives last year.
If the latest legislation fails, Rivian could find itself in the same position as Tesla, which couldn't get the Texas legislature to allow direct sales ahead of the ramp-up of its Giga Texas factory near the state capital of Austin. Tesla is likely stuck building cars in Texas that can't be sold there in the way Tesla intends to sell its cars—for the time being at least.
Rivian is planning to build a series of showrooms across the country. They won't stock an inventory of cars, and maintenance will be handled at standalone service centers. But they'll help function as activity hubs for owners, as part of Rivian's Membership program.
Anecdotally—and depending on how you consider the figures—state franchise laws are affecting EV adoption as they make it more difficult for technology early adopters.