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Senator Shirley K. Turner (D-Mercer)

TRENTON — A bill sponsored by Senator Shirley K. Turner that would allow New Jersey consumers to buy electric cars directly from a manufacturer received final approval today by the full Senate.

The bill, S-2098, would reverse last year’s decision by the state Motor Vehicle Commission to ban car manufacturers like Tesla from selling directly to consumers. The restriction of direct sales has been widely criticized as harmful to the state’s economy and its environment.

“Electric cars are not only the wave of the future, but also a growing industry that can help New Jersey’s economy,” said Turner (D-Hunterdon/Mercer). “The action taken by the Motor Vehicle Commission to adopt this regulation is hindering the state’s economic prospects and in turn driving consumers out of the state to spend their money elsewhere.”

Tesla Motors business model depends on direct sales to customers. In March of 2014, 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 Garden State Plaza 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. It would permit companies like Tesla Motors to directly sell its vehicles at a maximum of four locations in the state and provide one servicing facility. 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 must boost our economy with innovative industries that can help drive revenue and energy solutions while providing a cleaner environment for our residents. Last year’s decision is having a serious affect on our progress,” said Senator Turner. “It is now up to the Legislature to reverse this inflexible policy to help support promising companies like Tesla Motors in expanding their sales in New Jersey.”

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

“It makes sense to break out of our dependence on gas-operated vehicles and move toward a more cost-effective alternative,” added Turner. “The cost of gas is expensive and often a heavy burden on residents and their families. Supporting electric cars is the right solution for this and many other reasons.”

The bill was approved with a vote of 30-2. S-2098 passed the Assembly by a vote of 77-0 in June. It now heads to the governor’s desk.

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