TRENTON Gov. Christie on Wednesday signed into law a bill that will allow electric-car manufacturers such as Tesla Motors to sell vehicles directly to consumers, a year after the company warned that new regulations would force it to leave New Jersey.
"I said last year that if the Legislature changed the law, I would sign new legislation put on my desk and that is exactly what I'm doing today," Christie, a Republican, said in a statement. "We're pleased that manufacturers like Tesla will now have the opportunity to establish direct sales operations for consumers in a manner lawfully in New Jersey."
In April 2014, the state Motor Vehicle Commission adopted regulations requiring cars to be sold through franchised dealers, a move Tesla said blocked its direct-sales model.
New Jersey statute also banned Tesla's model, Christie said at the time.
After the rules were adopted, Tesla stopped selling cars and used its stores as galleries.
In June, the Assembly passed a bill that would allow manufacturers of zero-emission cars to bypass dealerships and sell directly to consumers. The Senate passed the same measure on Monday.
Palo Alto, Calif.-based Tesla, known for its Model S sedan, operates at four locations in North Jersey. The company praised the law on Twitter, calling it a "huge victory in New Jersey for consumer choice."
In a separate statement, Diarmuid O'Connell, a Tesla vice president, singled out several legislators for "pushing through the bill" and thanked Tesla owners for helping.
James B. Appleton, president of the New Jersey Coalition of Automotive Retailers, said his group opposed "special legislation" that "would allow one single solitary start-up automaker to bypass the franchise system of neighborhood new car dealerships that promotes competition and protects the public interest in highway safety."
Tesla's model "generates jobs, tax revenue and economic benefits in Silicon Valley and on Wall Street, but not here in New Jersey," he said in a statement.
- Andrew Seidman