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Senator Shirley K. Turner (D-Mercer)

Bill would reverse Christie administration misguided decision to ban direct sales

TRENTON — Senator Shirley Turner (D-Mercer, Hunterdon) introduced legislation today to allow New Jersey consumers to buy electric cars directly from a manufacturer, which would reverse a recent decision by the state Motor Vehicle Commission that banned car manufacturers like Tesla from selling directly to consumers.

The decision to ban direct sales has been widely criticized as harmful to the state’s economy and its environment.

“The Christie administration’s ban on direct sales will take a real toll on the state’s economic future and its environment,” said Turner. “We should be attracting a new industry like electric cars to New Jersey and supporting consumers who are looking for environmentally-friendly vehicles, not standing in their way and sending them to other states to spend their money.”

Tesla Motors business model depends on direct sales to customers. Earlier this month, the Motor Vehicle Commission voted unanimously on a rule to require that all new vehicle sales go through franchised retail dealers. The decision effectively turned Tesla store locations in GardenStatePlaza and The Mall at Short Hills into showrooms where staff can answer questions but can not discuss prices or close sales.

Consumers will now have to go to New York or Pennsylvania to purchase their environmentally-friendly cars unless the Legislature acts.

Turner’s bill amends the current law to allow electric motor vehicle manufacturers to sell directly to customers as long as the manufacturer is licensed by the MVC. Turner said the legislation is necessary to help support this nascent industry that promises to help wean the nation off its dependence on oil, provide jobs and help combat harmful pollution.

“We need to be creative to attract innovative industries to our state and help position ourselves for the future, but the governor has unfortunately decided that inflexibility is the better course of action. And now he is pointing fingers at the Legislature instead of taking responsibility,” Turner said. “Now, the Legislature must act to reverse the administration’s decision and help support an industry that offers so much promise.”

Turner noted that electric cars can save consumers a lot of money by freeing them from the rising costs of gas.

“For many families, the spiking cost of gas and commuting is a heavy burden to pay, often taking away from other forms of consumer spending that are more economically productive,” Turner said. “If electric cars can break that dependence, we need to support it.”