Christie to Decide if Tesla Can Resume Sales in NJ

Mar 17, 2015 08:34 AM EDT | Matt Mercuro

New Jersey residents may soon be allowed to purchase electric vehicles directly from manufacturers, according to an article by NJ.com.

The state Senate passed a bill on Monday that would reverse a decision by the state Motor Vehicle Commission that banned vehicle manufacturers like Tesla Motors from selling to consumers.

The Model S maker stopped selling its luxury EVs at its two NJ showrooms back on April 1, 2014 after the state turned down Tesla's license to sell vehicles directly to car buyers. The state requires vehicles to be sold through a franchise and at the time Govenor Chris Christie blamed the state Legislature for writing the law that prohibited Tesla's way of selling cars.

"I have no problem with Tesla selling directly to customers, except that it's against the law in New Jersey," Christie said during a March 2014 town hall meeting. "What they were asking for was an exception from the law. I'm not the king. I don't get to grant exceptions to the law."

Tesla had been selling vehicles at its Paramus and Short Hills showrooms until last year when the Motor Vehicle Commission revoked their license. Since then, the showrooms have remained open for potential buyers to look at and inside the cars, but employees aren't allowed to sell or discuss pricing with them.

Customers in N.J. were forced to go to New York or Pennsylvania to purchase a Model S instead, which go for around $70,000.

Now the Legislature has decided to act to change that law by passing a bill allowing Tesla to restart direct sales at its two showrooms and to open two more in the near future and a servicing facility.

To no surprise, the car dealers' association is opposed to the legislation.

"The love affair with Tesla has got everybody gooey, but this is special legislation to accommodate one Silicon Valley startup," said Jim Appleton, president of the New Jersey Coalition of Automotive Retailers, according to NJ.com. "You've got to question whether that's good public policy.

The A3216 bill, which passed 30-2 with no debate, is now in the hands of Governor Christie. He will have 45 days exactly to act on the bill and a spokesman for Christie said the bill "will be reviewed." 

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