Tesla has been in talks with New Jersey authorities and the commission about the rule change, but were told abruptly yesterday that the rule change would be approved Tuesday and that public comment on the matter will be delayed. Arizona and Texas also have similar laws banning auto manufacturers from making direct sales to customers.
“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 Kevin Roberts, a spokesman for Christie. “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.”
New Jersey is an important hub to reach out to New York customers.
“There’s no question that this rule was aimed directly at Tesla,” Jonathan Chang, a lawyer for the automaker, said at the state Capitol after the decision. “New Jersey does not believe in free enterprise, the bedrock of this nation.”
Other states like Ohio, New York, Minnesota and Georgia have tried in the past to stop Tesla from selling its cars directly to customers. The major issue for states is ensuring that customers have a local dealer that can provide them with maintenance services. Tesla does maintain numerous service centers for its vehicles around the country, including one in New Jersey.