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Tesla to open NorthPark Mall location as states try to lure massive factory

The Tesla car. Photo courtesy of Tesla. 

Gregory Wallace

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- State lawmakers in Arizona are pushing a bill that would give Tesla Motors the green light to sell its electric cars directly to consumers rather than through dealerships.

While Texas, like Arizona, currently bans automobile manufacturers from selling directly to consumers, a Texas retail store that will offer information about Tesla cars will open this summer in a retail hot spot - NorthPark Mall in Dallas. 

On Monday,  Texas Gov. Rick Perry said the state should discuss allowing Tesla to sell cars directly to consumers. 

“I think it’s time for Texans to have a very open conversation about this and talk about the pros and the cons,” Perry told FOX Business Network’s Maria Bartiromo. “I’m going to think that the pros of allowing this to happen are going to outweigh the cons.”

In Arizona, the bill is part of the state's effort to be the home state of a massive Tesla factory currently under development. Texas is also attempting to lure the massive plant. 

Arizona is one of four southwestern states Tesla is considering for its so-called gigafactory, a $1.6 billion battery production center that the company says could employ 6,500 workers.

Tesla has showrooms in 23 states and is explicitly allowed to sell its cars directly to consumers in fourstates. That model is illegal in many others.

One of Tesla's dozens of showrooms is in an upscale mall in Scottsdale, Arizona. Potential buyers can learn about the vehicles, but to buy, must head to a state where it is legal to do so, such as neighboring California.

Sponsor Warren Petersen, a Republican member of the state house, said the bill was written to bring Tesla to town.

"We wanted to send a message that Arizona is open for business," Peterson told CNN affiliate KPNX-TV.

The bill would apply only to electric cars.

The measure would have "a very small impact" on the state's auto market, Peterson said, but would be good for Tesla.

A state senate committee last week passed the measure over strong objections from an auto dealers' group. But its fate in the full legislature is uncertain, said Brahm Resnik, political reporter for KPNX-TV.

"Much like other states, our auto dealer lobby is quite powerful," Resnik said.

If the bill passes, it would become part of the portfolio of incentives each state in the running for the factory is expected to pitch to Tesla. Nevada's dealership law is under dispute. New Mexico and Texas do not allow direct sales. However, Tesla will open a Tesla retail location at NorthPark mall in Dallas in the summer. Tesla already has a retail  location in Houston. The interactive store will allow customers to learn about owning an electric car and configure their own Tesla. Tesla already has a service center in Farmers Branch. 

If Arizona scores the gigafactory, it would be the state's second big-name acquisition. Last year, Apple announced one of its two new U.S. plants would be built in Mesa, Arizona. The other is in Texas.

New Jersey, which is not in the running for the factory, recently banned direct sales. Tesla had been selling its cars at two Garden state showrooms.- Robert Francis with the Fort Worth Business Press contributed to this report. 

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