The war between Tesla and the auto dealers is back in the news, and it seems that Tesla is winning a battle in New Jersey. This week, the state Senate Commerce Committee unanimously passed a bill that would allow manufacturers of zero-emission vehicles to set up as many as four retail locations in the Garden State.
If the bill becomes law, Tesla would be allowed to sell its cars directly to consumers in its existing New Jersey showrooms, and to open up to two more. The company would also be required to set up at least one service facility.
Tesla has been banned from selling cars at its Paramus and Short Hills showrooms since April of 2014, when the state Motor Vehicle Commission decided it was violating a state law that requires cars to be sold through dealers.
The latest bill has already passed the Assembly, and must now pass the full state Senate, after which it will be sent to Governor Chris Christie. Christie, whose administration appoints MVC officials, has been roundly criticized from the left and the right over the issue. Last July, he said, “I don’t like the law either. I didn’t vote for it. I didn’t sign it. But I don’t get to just ignore the laws I don’t like.”
“We support the bill because we are a free market advocate, and we believe when you lift restrictions on free market trade, it really helps business, it helps the consumer,” said Tony Russo of the Commerce and Industry Association of New Jersey.
“It would be nice to finally be able to sell Tesla in New Jersey. I never thought it was a good idea to stymie anybody’s business,” said Assemblyman Tim Eustace (D-Bergen), the bill’s Assembly sponsor.