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Georgia Commissioner Tim Echols Explores Rivian At Georgia State Capitol

Rivian Automotive dropped by the Georgia State Capitol building on Tuesday, March 2nd, and Georgia’s Public Service Commission Vice Chair, Tim Echols, was able to explore Rivian’s prototype of its R1T electric pickup truck. Commissioner Echols, who I met during the Tesla parade event last December, is an advocate for EVs and clean vehicles. He shared his thoughts about how critical electric trucks are to the acceptance of EVs in Georgia.

Photo courtesy of Tom Krause.

“EV trucks are critical to widespread acceptance of EVs in Georgia,” he said. “Our state needs to be a part of the supply chain for EVs and widespread acceptance of the product is critical for that perception.”

The Rivian pickup was on display from 10:00 a.m to 4:00 p.m on Mitchell Street between the Georgia State Capitol and Coverdell Legislative Office Building.

Photo courtesy of Tom Krause.

HB 460 — Allow Rivian & Other EV Manufacturers To Sell Directly To Georgia Citizens

Another issue is a new bill that is being discussed by the Georgia legislature, HB 460, which would allow companies such as Rivian to apply for a dealer license and sell their vehicles directly in the state.

11 Alive noted that there is some strong opposition to HB 460. Ben Jordan of the Georgia Automobile Dealers Association told 11 Alive, “If we go toward a direct sales model like HB 460 would provide, you could be potentially jeopardizing 30,000 franchise dealership jobs here in Georgia, and 70,000 franchise dealership-related jobs.”

Photo courtesy of Tom Krause.

Jordan noted that the law protects independent dealers that aren’t owned by manufacturers. “State law exists not only to benefit the manufacturers and dealers but also, most importantly, the customers” by creating competition among the independent dealers, he said. This is an argument made in all of the states where there’s a battle between dealers and people who want direct sales to be permitted, and the claim doesn’t seem to be back by any evidence. In this day and age, having dealerships does not seem to be something that drives down costs. And many are concerned that the opposite is true.

The article noted that the auto dealers association has a strong voice in Georgia’s capital and that a disclosure report filed with the Georgia Transparency Commission showed that the group made around $80,000 in campaign contributions in late 2020. Most of those campaign contributions were made to the candidates for the legislature. Seem’s pretty shady — as if they are being paid off almost.

Photo courtesy of Tom Krause.

Rivian’s Vice President of Public Policy & Chief Regulatory Counsel, Jim Chen, pointed out to 11 Alive that independent dealers are outdated for startup, boutique EV makers. “It’s just not a business model that works for us. Let me be clear. We are not going to use franchise auto dealers,” Chen said. “If the law remains as it is and restricts Rivian from, or prevents us from, being able to sell directly in the state, we will sell from out-of-state locations.”

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