Opinion Article by Guest Contributor Jim Ringold
Texas car dealers have always made a point of being well represented in Austin in the legislature at the State Capitol. Good for them. They are furthering their cause in a Democratic way. But car sales methods are evolving in Texas. There is a huge new vehicle factory in Austin
“It’s going to be the biggest boomtown that America has seen in 50 years,”Elon Musk talking about Austin on Joe Rogan Podcast
Getting a price you are willing to pay has always been a one-against-one loses battle in this free enterprise country. But on one side is you, an individual, against the other one a car dealership. The dealership is loaded with years of experience in getting the most profit from car buyers. It is far from a balanced and fair negotiation.
Years ago, I learned that the way to negotiate with a car dealer was with absentee negotiating. Choose a dealer salesman and negotiate the price by phone calls, or by email. There are just two rules for you to follow; know what price you will accept, and always be willing to walk away. There are lots of dealers, salesmen, and vehicles out there. (OK not so much right now. This is why dealers are making record profits on lower supply and, therefore, high demand.) In normal times this will get you a deal you find acceptable. Oh, and tell the salesman that the price you settled on is final. What if there are add-ons at closing, you will immediately walk. Drive away slowly, they will likely chase you down.
Then along came Tesla, without all the sales offices, that would sell you a car online at a fixed published price, no lower, but no higher. When we settled on our first Tesla, I felt an obligation to the nice guy that had taken us on a demonstration ride, something car salesmen hate because it takes them out of the office and a chance at the next “walk-in” customer. So I wanted him to enter the order so as to get the sales credit. He explained he did not receive a commission on the sale but would be glad to guide me through the purchase in the Mall Tesla store computer if I couldn’t use or have a computer. Now a smartphone will also accomplish the task. What a revelation! Select your configuration, inside and out colors, and make a $100 deposit online so you have a place in line for a Tesla with a locked-in price. As the instigator of this new model, Mr. Elon Musk said, “You get the same price my mother paid!” One of the biggest dreads of buying a car is magically gone.
So back to Texas and a few other states like Michigan where the biggest problem is taking delivery. The Texas dealers can’t prevent you from buying a car online from California. But they can, by Texas law, prevent you from taking delivery in Texas. And then there is California deterring you from taking delivery in the state without paying the full California state sales tax there. AND you still have to pay the sales tax again in the state where you license your Tesla. Presto, no Fremont car deliveries except if you are licensing in California unless you are willing to pay dearly for the joyful experience of factory delivery.
It should be noted that the German car companies have made this factory delivery process into a science. Tour the factory, take delivery at a fancy delivery center, drive around Europe and drop off your new German car at a designated drop-off point when you are through touring. Then about a month later, pick up your car at your local dealer back home for the second delivery. You even get a European license plate as a souvenir.
So when thinking about how Tesla could legally allow me to take delivery at Giga Texas in Austin, I came up with some schemes. Since I am very far from being a lawyer, I am not certain any of these will work but I am throwing them out there for consideration:
INDEPENDENT CONTRACTOR DRIVER – ANOTHER STATE DESTINATION TRIP
With this idea, the customer picking up the Y or Cybertruck in Austin would sign a contract as an “independent contractor driver” to drive the vehicle to its final purchase destination. Maybe a token of $1 would have to be paid. A dealer tag would have to be provided and that could be a problem. The money for the normal “destination” fee would cover the insurance on the vehicle during this delivery trip. With the payment for the Tesla completed by the time of the pickup, the final State Title, Tax, and Tag paperwork would be completed in the destination State at a Tesla Service Center. At that point, the independent hauler contract would be completed.
INDEPENDENT CONTRACTOR DRIVER – TEXAS BORDER ROUNDTRIP
In this case, the customer picking up the Model Y or Cybertruck in Austin is a resident of Texas. Texas is a big state but it is not too far to the state border from around the state. So the contract driver/future owner would drive to the closest Supercharger outside of the State of Texas. Tesla Navigation will show you which, and you Supercharge, perhaps at no cost, to get you there at no cost. This Supercharging transaction shows you are outside of Texas. The tax, tag, and title paperwork would be automatically activated for delivery outside of the State of Texas. Maybe even a Lunch/Hotel Voucher option could be offered. Perhaps a trip to the Kickapoo Lucky Eagle Casino, near Eagle Pass, could also qualify with the addition of a Supercharger at the Casino.
“It is not a question of “if” but “when” Texas will allow Tesla to sell direct in Texas”
Perhaps Full Self Driving (FSD) could be turned on as an incentive demo for this registration trip. Or FSD could serve as the Contract Driver. Not likely for now, a step too far. But decidedly this is the future unless the folks in the Texas Legislature make a change that allows Teslas to be delivered in Texas. Not a question of if, in my opinion, but simply when. The voice of Tesla buyers in the Legislator will get louder as more and more Teslas hit the roads and byways of Texas.
Here’s to dreaming of a lap around the “Ring Road” of the Giga Texas near Austin, in my Cybertruck!
Jim Ringold, Exclusive to What’s Up Tesla – January 18, 2022 – All Rights Reserved
Sent to Gail Alfar – January 18, 2022