Tesla exploits ‘tribal land loophole’ to sell cars in New Mexico

Robert F smith

Elon Musk’s electric vehicle company strikes a deal with First Nations leaders to open service centre on tribal land, amid a state ban on direct new-car sales. View 2 images Electric vehicle specialist Tesla opened its first showroom in New Mexico last week, thanks to an obscure loophole and unlikely allegiance […]

Elon Musk’s electric vehicle company strikes a deal with First Nations leaders to open service centre on tribal land, amid a state ban on direct new-car sales.

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Electric vehicle specialist Tesla opened its first showroom in New Mexico last week, thanks to an obscure loophole and unlikely allegiance with local First Nations leaders.

New Mexico is one of at least eight US states – alongside South Carolina, Alabama, Louisiana, Texas, Connecticut, Wisconsin, and Nebraska – that retains legislation banning car companies from selling vehicles direct to consumers.

Introduced in 2006 to appease influential dealership lobby groups, the laws effectively prohibit Tesla’s fixed-price online direct-to-customer business model.



Until now, the laws have prevented the company from establishing an official presence in the New Mexico.

However, last week Tesla opened a new showroom and service centre within the confines of a defunct casino at the Nambé Pueblo sovereign tribal reserve – where the ban on company-direct sales of new cars does not apply – after coming to an agreement with local first nations leaders.

“This location will not only create permanent jobs, it is also part of a long-term relationship with Tesla, as the company is working with Pueblo Nambe to provide education and training opportunities for tribal members, as well as economic development,” Nambé Pueblo Governor, Phillip Perez, said at an offical launch event filmed by local television station KRQE.

Tesla has previously faced legal challenges to its direct-to-consumer business model in at least 18 of the US states.

However it now operates more than 130 showrooms and service centres across the United States, among an estimated 438 Tesla sites worldwide.

William Davis has written for Drive since July 2020, covering news and current affairs in the automotive industry.

He has maintained a primary focus on industry trends, autonomous technology, electric vehicle regulations, and local environmental policy.

As the newest addition to the Drive team, William was brought onboard for his attention to detail, writing skills, and strong work ethic.

Despite writing for a diverse range of outlets – including the Australian Financial Review, Robb Report, and Property Observer – since completing his media degree at Macquarie University, William has always had a passion for cars.

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