Tesla Banned From Offering Test Drives in Iowa


Tesla’s Model S has the highest owner-satisfaction rating of any car around. But the state of Iowa still doesn’t think you should be able to even test-drive one of the company’s cars.

According to The Des Moines Register, the Iowa Department of Transportation (DOT) asked Tesla to cease its test drives in West Des Moines earlier this month. You see, the Iowa Automobile Dealers Association alerted it about the event, Paul Steier, director of the DOT’s Bureau of Investigation and Identity Protection, told The Des Moines Register. The company cancelled the last day of the event after speaking with DOT officials, according to the story.

So what’s the issue?

As noted in the report, the Iowa DOT believes the test drives were illegal because Tesla is not a licensed dealer in the state. Also, state law bans automakers from selling directly to the public.

According to the story, electric vehicle advocates say Iowa is hampering efforts to promote increased adoption of such vehicles and the necessary charging infrastructure.

But the Iowa Automobile Dealers Association sees it differently. Bruce Anderson, the association’s president, said it’s a matter of consumer protection. Dealers in Iowa must be insured and have a physical location for buyers to visit if any problems arise. They must also be bonded through the state.

And Anderson seems to think buyers would get ripped off if Tesla got its way.

“Independent dealers are aggressive in pricing against each other,” he told The Des Moines Register. “If you wanted to buy directly from Chevy or Ford, the price on the sticker would be the price.”

Regardless, Iowans can still purchase a Tesla car online. They can also purchase one from a private seller.

Meanwhile, Tesla has also encountered problems in other states. According to the report, it has been banned or restricted from selling to the public in states such as Arizona, Maryland, New Jersey, Texas and Virginia.

But Massachusetts has taken a different approach. The company can now sell directly to customers in The Bay State thanks to a ruling from its highest court.

Photo credit: Flickr/oskay