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Tesla Gets Missouri Break as House Lets Direct-Sales Ban Wither

May 17 (Bloomberg) -- Tesla Motors Inc. won’t be barred from selling its electric cars directly to Missouri customers after the state’s legislature adjourned without voting on a bill the company called a “sneak attack” on its business.

The current session concluded yesterday in Jefferson City without taking up a House bill that had passed Missouri’s Senate with no public comment or debate, Tesla said in an e-mailed statement. Language was added to the bill, dealing mainly with rules for all-terrain vehicles, to explicitly require consumers to buy vehicles only through franchise auto dealerships.

“The defeat of this anti-free market proposal is a victory for Missouri consumers and for the state’s economy,” Diarmuid O’Connell, Tesla’s vice president of business development, said in the statement.

The challenge in Missouri arose as Tesla appealed New Jersey’s March decision to ban direct auto sales by manufacturers and as it works to keep selling Model S sedans at its Massachusetts stores. While Texas and Arizona also bar direct sales of Teslas, the Palo Alto, California-based company worked out arrangements in Ohio and New York this year to keep selling in those states.

The company, now the largest auto employer in California, has one store in Missouri in University City, near St. Louis, where it also operates a service center. A second store in the state may be added in Kansas City, O’Connell said in a conference call this week.

Tesla rose 1.6 percent to $191.56 yesterday at the close in New York and has gained 27 percent this year.

To contact the reporter on this story: Alan Ohnsman in Los Angeles at aohnsman@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Jamie Butters at jbutters@bloomberg.net Stephen West, Anne Reifenberg

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