Tesla Faces One Last Hurdle In New Jersey After Senate Passes Bill Allowing Direct-To-Consumer Sales

A little more than a year after the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission unanimously voted to block the sale of Tesla vehicles directly to consumers, the state’s Legislature passed a bill allowing the car company to bypass auto dealerships and continue its unique model of car sales.

The New Jersey Star-Ledger reports that the final decision on whether or not Tesla – and other car zero-emission car manufacturers – can sell vehicles directly to consumers rests on the shoulders of Governor Chris Christie, whose administration stopped Tesla from selling the electric cars in the first place.

Under legislation passed on a 30-2 vote yesterday, Tesla would be able to restart sales at its two New Jersey showrooms, and open two additional stores in the state.

Christie has 45 days to sign the bill. A spokesperson for the Governor’s office tells the Star-Ledger that the bill “will be reviewed.”

The drama between Tesla and New Jersey began last March when the state’s Motor Vehicle Commission revoked the company’s license to sell cars at its two showrooms. The Commission said the license was revoked based on a 1970s law that requires vehicles to be sold through dealerships.

Just three months later, the state’s Consumer Affairs Committee approved a bill that not only let Tesla begin sales again, but allowed it to open two more stores.

From there the bill passed the state Assembly and went on to the Senate, where it remained until yesterday.

While Tesla was able to keep its showrooms open for the past year, it hasn’t been able to sell or discuss pricing of the $70,000 zero-emission vehicles with consumers.

While sponsors of the legislation say that if signed by Gov. Christie it could provide a boost to the state’s economy, representatives with the local car dealers’ association are holding out hope for a different outcome.

“The love affair with Tesla has got everybody gooey, but this is special legislation to accommodate one Silicon Valley startup,” Jim Appleton, president of the New Jersey Coalition of Automotive Retailers, tells the Star-Ledger. “You’ve got to question whether that’s good public policy.

Appleton goes on to say that he doesn’t want to see Tesla out of business, but rather working with dealers to sell the vehicles instead.

Christie to decide on allowing Tesla electric car company to restart sales in N.J. [New Jersey Star-Ledger]