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AutoNation CEO to Tesla's Elon Musk: Call me maybe!

Tesla Motors should be allowed to continue to sell its electric cars to consumers in company-owned showrooms and not have to mollify state governments that oppose the practice, AutoNation Chairman and CEO Mike Jackson told CNBC on Tuesday.

Texas—among the four finalists for a new Tesla plant—currently prohibits direct auto sales, fueling questions about whether the automaker might choose the Lone Star State in exchange for a lifting of that ban.

Even though Tesla's business model cuts out dealerships like AutoNation, Jackson said in a "Squawk Box" interview, "Tesla should have the right to decide how it wants to retail its vehicles … and that should include the great state of Texas."

"I do not view [Tesla] as a threat to franchise auto dealers or a threat to AutoNation in any way," Jackson added, while stressing that his company "has not supported or helped any of the entities that are legally resisting Tesla's retail model."

Tesla promises that its so-called "Gigafactory" for producing lithium-ion batteries and electric storage applications would bring 6,500 jobs and an investment of more than $4 billion to the winning state.

(Read more: Tesla to Texas: How do you like us now?)

Tesla CEO Elon Musk at the 2013 New York Times DealBook Conference
Getty Images
Tesla CEO Elon Musk at the 2013 New York Times DealBook Conference

In the past, Jackson has called Tesla's initial Model S offering a "marvelous product," which he'd be completely open to selling should billionaire founder Elon Musk change his mind about dealers.

While he has not heard from Musk yet, the AutoNation CEO said: "I would not be surprised if my phone rang and Elon wanted to talk about retailing through AutoNation. [He's] indicated that he thinks that's a possibility."

Tesla did not immediately reply to CNBC's request for comment.

Reiterating that he'd sell Teslas given the chance, Jackson said he expects the electric automaker to rethink its direct approach. "I believe ultimately that when Tesla wants to go to higher volumes and needs a service capacity when there's more Teslas on the road, they will move to the franchise model down the road."

A Model S is parked in front of a new Tesla Supercharger outside the Tesla factory in Fremont, Calif.
Getty Images
A Model S is parked in front of a new Tesla Supercharger outside the Tesla factory in Fremont, Calif.

Beyond the U.S., Tesla wants to make its mark in Europe—announcing Tuesday that it plans to open more than 30 new stores across Europe, and expand its Supercharger network there as well.

Tesla has said it sees sales potential in Europe and Asia eventually more than doubling North America.

Last month, Tesla announced better-than-expected fourth quarter earnings and revenues. The Palo Alto, Calif., automaker also said it expected to deliver more than 35,000 Model S sedans in 2014, a 55 percent increase over last year.

(Read more: Tesla forecasts a big 2014)

The next vehicle in Tesla's pipeline is a sports utility vehicle dubbed the Model X, with sales expected to begin early next year. There's already been heavy interest in the SUV.

By CNBC's Matthew J. Belvedere. Follow him on Twitter @Matt_SquawkCNBC.

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