ALBANY - Tesla's plan to open more storefronts in New York will likely have to wait until 2018.
The company that manufactures electronic vehicles has been seeking the state Legislature's approval to open 15 additional stores across the Empire State, including in Rochester, Buffalo and Syracuse.
But the sponsor of a bill that would allow it to happen says it likely won't get a vote before state lawmakers end their annual session at the Capitol on Wednesday.
"I would expect that it would be a conversation we have in the summer and fall, so I do not expect the bill to move this year," said Assembly Majority Leader Joseph Morelle, D-Irondequoit, Monroe County.
"But it’s obviously an issue that’s important to a lot of people that are interested in zero-emissions automobiles and the method by which you buy them.”
Tesla currently has five stores in downstate New York, including one in The Westchester Mall in White Plains.
By law, the automaker is capped at that amount. It was the product of a 2014 agreement between the company,
Gov. Andrew Cuomo and auto dealers that protested Tesla's ability to sell its vehicles directly to consumers and not through a dealer.
The company, which thus far has manufactured high-end electric vehicles, is expected to launch its Model 3 car in July. It's expected to start at $35,000.
As part of that push, Tesla asked lawmakers to expand the cap to allow 20 total stores.
Morelle introduced a bill earlier this month that would do just that, while also mandating at least one store in the Rochester, Buffalo, Syracuse, Albany and mid-Hudson Valley regions.
“We’re basically asking the Legislature to revisit the wisdom of the constraint that was imposed in 2014 and to lift the cap from five to 20 stores so that we can invest in the state, serve our customers better and by the way, create jobs," said Diarmuid O'Connell, Tesla's vice president for business development.
O'Connell said the company hopes to open more stores in Westchester County and the mid-Hudson Valley, in part because of the proximity to Connecticut, where automobiles can only be sold through dealers.
Morelle said he expects the bill to get a full airing when lawmakers return to the Capitol in 2018.
“I put the bill in because I think there’s an important policy issue to be discussed," he said.