• Image Credit: Drew Phillips
  • Image Credit: Drew Phillips
  • Image Credit: Drew Phillips
  • Image Credit: Drew Phillips
  • Image Credit: Drew Phillips
  • Image Credit: Drew Phillips
  • Image Credit: Drew Phillips
  • Image Credit: Drew Phillips
  • Image Credit: Drew Phillips
  • Image Credit: Drew Phillips
  • Image Credit: Drew Phillips
  • Image Credit: Drew Phillips
  • Image Credit: Drew Phillips
  • Image Credit: Drew Phillips
  • Image Credit: Drew Phillips
  • Image Credit: Drew Phillips
  • Image Credit: Drew Phillips
  • Image Credit: Drew Phillips
UPDATE: The story's been updated to include a comment from Tesla Motors

It looks like the Maryland Automobile Dealers Association is following the sage advice of Sun Tzu by keeping its friends close and its enemies closer. The state is on the doorstep of legalizing Tesla Motors to sell its electric vehicles to state residents without involving a third-party dealership, Automotive News says. Both the state's house and senate have approved House Bill 235, and Maryland Governor Larry Hogan could pass the bill as soon as April 28.

The Association had supported the legalization of direct-to-consumer Tesla sales, but the catch is that just four dealer licenses would be allowed, and that such direct-sales dealers would be allowed to sell only zero-emissions vehicles. Four might not sound like a lot, but Maryland is a pretty small state (it has about a third fewer people than New York City proper).

"Tesla applauds the Maryland legislature for passing HB 235. This legislation confirms the Company's ability to bring its direct to consumer sales model to Maryland residents, which brings it in line with virtually every other state," wrote Jim Chen, Tesla's VP of regulatory affairs, in an e-mail to AutoblogGreen. "This type of legislation can and should serve as an example to other states still blocking free markets, consumer choice, and American innovation."

Of course, the battle wages on in other states. West Virginia just turned down a chance to make Tesla's direct-sales distribution model legal in that state. Meanwhile, Georgia late last month legalized direct Tesla sales, though that state capped Tesla's dealership numbers at five (it was originally going to be just three). Georgia was the 22nd state to legalize direct Tesla sales to customers.

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