South Carolina continues to harm consumers in the state by pushing back the decision on direct sales of EVs, like Tesla. In addition, consumers buying cars in other states and transporting them to South Carolina, deprives the state of an infrastructure maintenance fee.
South Carolina residents who are craving a convenient way to buy a Tesla electric car in the state will have to wait. A bill that would allow makers of new electric vehicles to sell their products directly to South Carolina residents has stalled at the Statehouse this year, according to the City Paper.
Under state law, automakers are currently unable to sell new vehicles directly to South Carolina consumers without an official presence in the state. Rep. Mike Burns, R-Greenville, introduced a bill last year to make an exception for electric vehicles. State Senators Sandy Senn and Chip Campsen, both Charleston County Republicans, co-sponsored an electric car exemption in 2019, but it also failed to garner debate.
Burns told the City Paper that his voters are “frustrated because there are no [Tesla] dealerships here. The way the law is written [buyers would] have to buy in a state that permits it then import it into South Carolina or buy it directly from the company and then import it in. They felt it was a hassle to do that.”
Although the bill did not generate interest in the last legislative session, Burns has a belief that “the landscape might be a little different when we go back [in session] next year” as more federal electric-car tax incentives gain traction.
There are just over 11,000 electric vehicles registered in the state at the moment, of which about 6,400 are Teslas. Clearly, the state has lost revenue from these cars and will continue to lose more if it does not accept the change. Buyers pay 5% of a car's price up to $500 as an infrastructure maintenance fee (IMF). This levy, which replaced the state vehicle sales tax five years ago when the state raised the gas tax, goes to the state Department of Transportation, which maintains the roads, said Lauren Philips, SCDMV’s deputy director for legislative affairs. If a South Carolina buyer pays $200 in sales tax for an electric or gasoline-powered vehicle in another state, the buyer is charged $300, she said. If a buyer paid $500 in sales tax in another state, however, no fee is owed to South Carolina, she added.
The ban on direct-to-consumer sales of new electric vehicles is good news for dealerships and manufacturers who do business with them. However, it causes huge damage to consumers. Chris Marquez, the founder of the Facebook group Tesla Owners of Charleston, SC, said that removing the direct sales ban should have bipartisan support in the legislature, but it has been “made political by local dealerships and the automobile association. Direct sales is an automobile industry disruption, and those in control fight the consumer, all while claiming to try and protect the consumer. The existing laws were never created to protect the consumer and there are regular examples of the dealership model hurting consumers and limiting competition.”
© 2022, Eva Fox | Tesmanian. All rights reserved.
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About the Author
Eva Fox joined Tesmanian in 2019 to cover breaking news as an automotive journalist. The main topics that she covers are clean energy and electric vehicles. As a journalist, Eva is specialized in Tesla and topics related to the work and development of the company.