Doesn't New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie have enough people mad at him already? Apparently not, since more than a few folks who like Tesla Motors are ready to get riled up. The governor is already embattled via his office's alleged role in a scandal involving politically-motivated lane shut-downs to the George Washington Bridge. And with him now deciding to let the state's motor-vehicle commission rule on allowing for Tesla to own its dealers, Tesla has likely lost that battle and may have to shutter its two New Jersey factory-owned stores by April 1, Automotive News says.
Earlier this week, Tesla accused the governor on going back on his word after the company said it believed that the ruling would go before state legislature. Of course, the governor's office disagreed with that characterization. Kevin Roberts, a spokesman for Gov. Christie, sent a statement to AutoblogGreen that said:
Tesla strenuously disagrees with that characterization, and Diarmuid O'Connell, Tesla's vice president of business development, told Bloomberg that, "any suggestion that Tesla was told 'since the beginning' about any problem with its ability to be licensed there is false." Representatives for New Jersey auto dealers say the ruling merely upholds current regulations and forces everyone to operate under the same mandate. Tesla first received approval to operate in New Jersey in the fall of 2012.
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. 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.
Tesla has won court decisions regarding dealer allowances in Massachusetts and New York, though most notably lost one in Texas (the company also can't sell cars direct to customers in Arizona). In the past, Tesla CEO Elon Musk has said he'd take the matter to the federal government, and we wouldn't be surprised to hear that sort of rallying cry come up again soon.