Electric Vehicles could become more difficult to buy in Mississippi

Published: Feb. 6, 2023 at 6:50 PM CST
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - A bill at the State Capital has quickly been passed in the House that could make it difficult for some electric vehicle models like Tesla to be bought and sold in Mississippi.

Leaders at the State Capital could be closing the door on the Electric Vehicle industry in Mississippi after House Bill 401 was passed in the House and sent over to the Senate.

“We as a government here in Mississippi should not be trying to tell people how they can sell their product. It’s going to shut down a new incoming business model, and it’s the only business model these electric vehicles seem to use,” Senator Jeremy England, (R) - Jackson County, said.

Traditionally, car dealerships have been locally owned and partnered with large manufacturers like Ford, Honda, Nissan, and others to sell to customers.

Now, state lawmakers want to make sure that’s the only way for manufacturers to sell products in the state -- a model that Electric Vehicle companies like Tesla don’t follow.

“HB 401 seeks to close that market to electric vehicle manufacturers and not allow them to use their sales model,” Sen. England said.

But those in favor of the bill said it’s nothing against E.V.s. It’s simply a way to protect existing dealerships.

“This bill is to really give our auto dealers a moment in time to take a look and see how this model is changing. It is, and we’ve got to change with the times, or we’ll get left behind. I think that’s for sure. But we’re just protecting them for a moment,” Senator Bart Williams, (R)-Starkville, said.

So what could Mississippi miss out on if the bill is turned into law?

“There’s big money in this market with the suppliers. For instance, in Nevada, which is an open state, they just had a battery manufacturer come to their state and make a $3.6 billion investment as an open state,” Sen. England explained. “So those jobs are being created. Those suppliers are gonna have to move close by... that’s improved infrastructure. We want Mississippi to remain an open state and to attract those jobs here as well.”

Sen. England said the state is already taking steps, despite HB 401, to have E.V. chargers installed near interstates and highways.

“We’re also looking at legislation that would enable the state of Mississippi to accept $50 million from the federal government to put up electric vehicle charging stations, and so we’re gonna miss out on that. Why build the charging stations and then not allow the direct sales of electric vehicles in Mississippi?” Sen. England explained.

As the bill quickly moves through the capitol, leaders on both sides of the aisle are debating its impact.

“This bill is not a fix-all. It’s a temporary measure. We just got to embrace it and bring it in and make it economically feasible for those people that are already here,” Sen. Williams said.

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