Ban and Buy: U.S. States' Love-Hate Relationship With Tesla
Want to drop by a Tesla store? You're out of luck in more than half of the U.S. The electric carmaker's 78 U.S. stores are spread out among 21 states and Washington, D.C., with about a third of them in California alone, a map on the company's website shows.
Tesla's business model is different to many other automotive manufacturers as it sells cars directly to consumers through one of its stores or online as opposed to an independent dealership franchise. In the map below, the states in green have Tesla stores while the ones in red don't.
Some states likes Texas and Michigan have passed legislation that bans manufacturers from directly selling their cars through stores — effectively preventing Tesla from opening up shop within their borders. Tesla's website says stores are coming soon to Owings Mills, Maryland and Greenwich, Connecticut. There are some states that don't have Tesla stores but do have "galleries," which allow you to admire a Model S's specs without being able to drive away with one.
But a state's ban on manufacturers directly selling vehicles doesn't mean its public pensions can't own a piece of Tesla itself. Thirteen large U.S. public pension funds that have to file 13F reports held shares in Tesla as of June 30, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. This includes public pensions in Michigan and Texas — two states where the direct sales of Teslas are prevented by law.
After the second quarter of this year, Michigan's treasury department sold its shares of Tesla in order to pay for benefit payments and lock in gains, spokeswoman Danelle Gittus said in an e-mail. The sale resulted in a gain of more than $22 million for four different pension systems, including the plans for police and judges, she said. Juliana Helton, a spokeswoman for the Teacher Retirement System of Texas, declined to comment on the pension fund's investment in Tesla.
New York, which the data show owns the most Tesla stock of the public pensions, holds about $98.3 million in Tesla shares, said Matthew Sweeney, a spokesman for the state comptroller. About 346,000 of the fund's shares are held in index holdings and the rest are held by active managers, he said.
Public pension plans have to do what's best for their beneficiaries by making prudent investment decisions, said Keith Johnson, who represents pension funds for law firm Reinhart Boerner Van Deuren. "They're not supposed to make decisions based on political preferences," he said. "It's not a public policy question for the public pension fund, it's, 'Is this a good investment?'"
Tesla's shares have been on a wild ride this year. As of the end of trading on Sept. 14, shares of the company have fallen 18.17 percent since the start of the year. Tesla has been fighting to purchase money-losing solar company SolarCity Corp., while the electric carmaker has also been under scrutiny following a fatal crash of a Model S in May.
If you have bought a Tesla in your state and want to take it for a spin, here's something worth keeping in mind: Electric cars do not produce pollution when driving on the road, but there usually are some emissions associated with the power that charges their batteries. The carbon footprint of your Tesla road trip may depend on where in the U.S. you plug in your car. The map below shows the carbon intensity of power produced in each state, using 2014 datasets from the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Hover over the map to see how many metric tons of carbon dioxide are associated with each megawatt-hour of power produced in each state in 2014.
If you want a really low carbon charge for your Tesla, the best state to plug-in would probably be Vermont, where power generation has an emissions intensity of nearly zero. Meanwhile, Wyoming's power generation is on the opposite end of the scale with an emissions intensity of about 0.95 metric ton of CO2 per megawatt-hour.
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