LAS VEGAS — A bipartisan group of Colorado lawmakers, in a move that sparked swift pushback from the state's new-car dealers, has introduced a bill that would allow automakers to sell electric vehicles directly to consumers.
The measure, introduced Thursday in the state assembly, would create an exception to Colorado law that would allow automakers to directly own, operate or control dealerships that sell their own electric vehicles. A Senate hearing on the issue is scheduled for Tuesday.
"We believe the franchise [model is] better for the industry, better for the factory and better for the consumer," Tim Jackson, president of the Colorado Automobile Dealers Association, told Automotive News, adding that he anticipates franchised dealers will oppose the measure. "The dealer is in the middle of that process to take care of the customer locally."
State Sens. Chris Hansen, a Democrat, and Kevin Priola, a Republican, along with Democratic state House Speaker KC Becker, are sponsoring the bill, which defines an EV as "a motor vehicle that can operate entirely on electrical power."
Hansen said this bill marks a second attempt after a similar measure he introduced last year failed on the House floor.
The main difference this time, he added, is that the legislation would allow any automaker that builds electric vehicles to sell them directly. The previous effort would have limited it to EV-exclusive manufacturers.
"I really felt like we needed to have parity for all EV manufacturers, and that's really the purpose of the bill," said Hansen, whose district includes part of Denver.
"It's not a bill about trying to take something away from dealerships."
Michael Dunlap, vice president of business development for Schomp Automotive Group, which has six dealerships in Colorado, said he's "tremendously concerned" about the Colorado bill.
"When we can be there and take care of the consumer and react to their needs on an individual basis, that model serves a consumer much better," he said.