Tesla Gains Ground In The Garden State: New Jersey Pols Support Direct Sales

March 10, 2015

In Hollywood, celebrities often burst onto the scene, becoming household names overnight. In most industries, though, the road to world domination is strewn with potholes and speed bumps. Tesla Motors' CEO Elon Musk knows that as well as anyone.

However, Auto News reports that Tesla may soon overcome at least one of the obstacles in its path. If so, the start-up automaker could be positioned for success in a key U.S. market: New Jersey.

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Last spring, Tesla was in talks with Governor Chris Christie, and Musk was optimistic about the prospects of selling Tesla's all-electric vehicles in the Garden State. Then suddenly -- to hear Tesla tell it -- Christie and the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission made an about-face. In March of 2014, the Commission unanimously approved new rules that limited new car sales to franchises. Since Tesla doesn't have a network of franchised dealerships -- relying instead on a system of galleries owned and operated by the company itself -- it was left out in the proverbial cold. 

Tesla vowed to sue for the right to sell vehicles directly to consumers, but that suit appears to have gone nowhere. Later, the state Assembly heartily approved a bill (PDF) that would make room for Tesla, but as is often the case, the bill later got waylaid.

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Luckily for Tesla, that bill is back on track. In its current form, it "Permits certain zero emission vehicle manufacturers to directly sell motor vehicles to consumers and requires them to operate service facilities". Any company doing business in New Jersey under the proposed guidelines would be limited to four retail locations.

On Monday, the bill passed the Senate Commerce Committee by a vote of 6-0, and now it goes to the full Senate. Governor Christie has suggested that he'll sign the bill if it ever reaches his desk. Stay tuned.


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