Electric startup Rivian has built up an avalanche of hype surrounding the launch of its upcoming R1T pickup and R1S SUV. While those are slated to arrive later this year, one crucial element of their product rollout is coming into play: how the company plans to get those vehicles to actual consumers. Like Tesla, Rivian plans to follow a direct-sales model, foregoing the traditional, resource-sapping process of setting up a nationwide dealership franchise.
In fact, Automotive News reports that the electric automaker is lobbying Colorado state lawmakers to allow an exception from the traditional dealer franchise requirement to sell vehicles directly to consumers in the state. Currently, all manufacturers except Tesla are held to that requirement. Senate Bill 20-167, allowing an exception for more electric automakers to operate their own stores.
“I am of the opinion that we should have that option available to any EV manufacturer,” said state Senator Chris Hansen to The Colorado Sun. “Tesla has that ability, and I don’t see any reason why there shouldn’t be market access for any other manufacturer.”
The bill made it out of the Senate Energy & Transportation committee on February 18, on a 3-2 vote. Now, the bill could head to the full Senate as early as this week for further consideration. Last August, Colorado adopted a zero emissions vehicle mandate, which takes effect in 2023. By that time, about 4.9 percent of an automaker’s sales in the state must be electric. Rivian naturally spoke in support of the bill, as did the Colorado Energy Office. Energy office director Will Toor said, “It levels the playing field and ensures future market entrants will be able to sell in Colorado, just like Tesla.”
Opposition to the bill
While the bill reportedly enjoys bipartisan support, the Colorado Dealers Association opposes the legislation. For their part, dealer association CEO Tim Jackson said an exemption would open up direct sales to any manufacturer that builds an EV. He also said the lay is unnecessary, as what’s already in place allows manufacturers to operate their own dealerships if they don’t already have franchise dealers operating in the state.
Colorado is by no means the only state where EV automakers are facing headwinds. For its part, Tesla has also been fighting to tackle states that don’t allow direct sales.