Texas -- or at least its lawmakers -- is not fond of Tesla, the electric car seller. In 2013, lawmakers blocked a bill that would have allowed the company to bypass auto dealers and sell directly to consumers. For Tesla the car manufacturer -- the one that just put Texas on the shortlist for a $5 billion gigafactory -- the response was considerably warmer, with lawmakers wooing the startup, hard.
Tesla the car seller and Tesla the car manufacturer are, of course, one and the same. How, then, to explain Texas' schizoid half-embrace? Pretty simple. On the one hand, state officials love nothing more than bagging a big, high-tech job-creating factory. On the other, lawmakers are in the pocket of the state's auto dealers, whose economic clout, generous campaign contributions and the thousands of people they employ in every one of the state's legislative districts give the industry unparalleled power in Austin.
Tesla founder Elon Musk knew this when he announced last month that Texas, along with Arizona, New Mexico and Nevada, was a finalist for the gigafactory. Now he seems to be having second thoughts.More »