Diarmuid O'Connell, Tesla's vice president for corporate and business development, on Wednesday slammed legislation in North Carolina that would prevent the sale of his company's all-electric cars.
"What's happening here is the rules are being changed to protect the dealer model and exclude us from the market," he said on CNBC. "North Carolina consumers are buying these vehicles, they are interested in these vehicles. It's a great market, it's an innovative market, it's a technology-philic market."
"We have a lot of uptake there," O'Connell continued. "We want to service those consumers. Ultimately we want to set up a sales presence and when we do so, we want to do so as a fully licensed entity in that state. We simply do not want to see the rules changed mid-stream."
Currently, Tesla Motors sells cars directly to consumers over the phone or Internet rather than through third-party dealerships. Legislation introduced by North Carolina state Sen. Tom Apodaca (R-Henderson) would make such a business model illegal in the state. Apodaca said the bill would prevent unfair competition.
The bill was unanimously approved by the state's Senate Commerce Committee last week.
Robert Glaser, president of the North Carolina Automobile Dealers Association, told CNBC the bill was intended to protect consumers by forcing them to buy from dealerships. O'Connell dismissively mocked his claim and said the bill would "disenfranchise" consumers rather than empower them.
Watch video, courtesy of CNBC, below: