New Jersey Changes Course With Bill That Allows Tesla To Resume Sales, Open New Stores In State

Back in March, New Jersey’s Motor Vehicle Commission approved a ban on Tesla, prohibiting it from selling its electric cars directly to consumers in the state.

The reason cited at the time was to enforce an old law that requires cars to be sold through dealerships, a spokesperson for Governor Chris Christie — whose appointees on the MVC approved the ban — said.

“Since Tesla first began operating in New Jersey one year ago, it was made clear that the company would need to engage the Legislature on a bill to establish their new direct-sales operations under New Jersey law,” said the spokesman then. “This administration does not find it appropriate to unilaterally change the way cars are sold in New Jersey without legislation and Tesla has been aware of this position since the beginning.”

Perhaps that perked up the ears of the state Assembly, because today its Consumer Affairs Committee approved a bill by a vote of 4-0 that not only lets Tesla start sales up again in New Jersey, but allows it open two more stores, reports the New Jersey Star-Ledger.

It isn’t just Tesla, of course — any company selling zero-emission vehicles straight to consumers can do business in the state, as long as those businesses have at least one facility to service cars.

“This is a super important issue for us in New Jersey, and as some of you would know, nationally as well,” said Tesla’s vice president of business development, Diarmuid O’Connell, adding that it will “allow us to in a modest way and a reasonable way conduct the business of educating the public about electric vehicles and getting as many of those vehicles on the road as quickly as possible.”

This news comes after the Federal Trade Commission stepped out in support of the direct-to-consumer sales model, saying it no one way of selling things to consumers should trump any other, in order to benefit consumers the most. It also directly urged states like New Jersey and Missouri to reconsider anti-Tesla legislation.

The Assembly seems to have listened.

“New Jersey prides itself as being pro-business, pro-innovative and pro-jobs. And this is a company that is an American company, an American idea,” said Assemblyman Tim Eustace (D-Bergen), a sponsor, “I think we would be mistaken if we didn’t’ reverse the idea that the MVC made, making it illegal to sell Teslas in New Jersey.”

Cue Elon Musk’s fistpump of triumph. Because you know he’s totally that kind of guy.

Pro-Tesla electric car bill advances in NJ Assembly [New Jersey Star-Ledger]