It's not quite the law that Tesla Motors can sell its car directly to customers in New Jersey, but the state has taken one step closer to that reality. Yesterday, New Jersey's Assembly Consumer Affairs Committee voted 4-0 to approve bill A3216, which would "Permits certain zero emission vehicle manufacturers to directly sell motor vehicles to consumers and requires them to operate service facilities."
The EV automaker's ongoing dealer fight took a turn for the worse in New Jersey a few months ago, when the state legislature voted in mid-March to prevent Tesla stores from conducting their business. Tesla had been selling cars in the sate, but Governor Chris Christie said the ban was just an enforcement of a law that had been on the books for years, something Tesla said was an "affront to the very concept of a free market." If A3216 becomes law, then electric vehicle makers would be able to operate "no more than four places of business in the State" as well as one service center.
Speaking to the committee, Tesla's vice president of business development, Diarmuid O'Connell, said, "This is a super important issue for us in New Jersey, and as some of you would know, nationally as well. ... [The bill would] allow us to in a modest way and a reasonable way conduct the business of educating the public about electric vehicles and getting as many of those vehicles on the road as quickly as possible." Speaking for the New Jersey Coalition of Automotive Retailers, president Jim Appleton said that this solution is fine for start-up EV automakers, but that the franchise model should still be the goal for anyone selling cars.
The bill will let Tesla "conduct the business of educating the public about electric vehicles" – Diarmuid O'Connell
This fight isn't nationwide yet, but the FTC has come out against what it called "protectionist" anti-direct sales mandates, so we expect to be hearing more as time goes by.