Dealer associations have been fighting to block Tesla’s direct-to-consumer model in several states, including New Jersey.
The law allows zero-emission vehicle manufacturers up to four factory-owned showrooms/sales locations in New Jersey. The law also requires at least one service facility.
The move is a direct reversal of previous policy, which came about when Tesla was forced to stop selling vehicles at its two New Jersey dealerships due to improperly issued licenses.
It’s not yet clear if other manufacturers of zero-emissions EVs will take advantage of the statute. It's also not yet clear if this might become a model for other states where Tesla Motors' direct-sales model is contentious with dealer organizations.
The new law should bring some vindication to Gov. Christie, as well as to Elon Musk, who last year wrote in a missive entitled, “To the People of New Jersey,”:
“[U]nder pressure from the New Jersey auto dealer lobby to protect its monopoly, the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission, composed of political appointees of the Governor, ended your right to purchase vehicles at a manufacturer store within the state. Governor Christie had promised that this would be put to a vote of the elected state legislature, which is the appropriate way to change the law. When it became apparent to the auto dealer lobby that this approach would not succeed, they cut a backroom deal with the Governor to circumvent the legislative process and pass a regulation that is fundamentally contrary to the intent of the law.”
Now, a year later, that legislative process has been set right and the result is legal Teslas for all—in New Jersey, and in four outlets, at least.