Tesla has a special history with the state of New Jersey, having delivered the 500th Roadster there in 2009. Fast forward to 2014, though, and the electric vehicle company is having a decidedly less-positive experience in the Garden State. In short, Tesla's ongoing dealer fight has turned sour, and thing are potentially going from bad to worse today.

Tesla says it has been working "constructively" with the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission (NJMVC) and Governor Chris Christie's administration "to defend against the New Jersey Coalition of Automotive Retailers' (NJ CAR) attacks on Tesla's business model and the rights of New Jersey consumers." In other words, the right for Tesla to open its own stores and not use the traditional dealer model. The legislative process on the fate of Proposal PRN 2013-138 (PDF) has been continuing and Tesla says it thought everyone was acting in good faith, but now it's not so sure. In a new official blog post, Tesla says:

Unfortunately, Monday we received news that Governor Christie's administration has gone back on its word to delay a proposed anti-Tesla regulation so that the matter could be handled through a fair process in the Legislature. The Administration has decided to go outside the legislative process by expediting a rule proposal that would completely change the law in New Jersey. This new rule, if adopted, would curtail Tesla's sales operations and jeopardize our existing retail licenses in the state. ... This is an affront to the very concept of a free market.

A meeting on the proposal is scheduled to take place this afternoon, and Tesla is not happy about it. In Ohio last year, Tesla asked for immediate help to stop a similar bill, which ended up working. For a while.

Last year, New Jersey started considering an EV-only tax that would cost EV drivers about $100 a year, but that appears to have been scrapped.


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  • 351 Comments
      • 11 Months Ago
      This seems totally unreal to me. America the land of free markets? The land of capitalism? A company that is not allowed to sell their products to their customers for the sole reason to "feed" useless dealers? Honestly, if this was Russia or North Korea, I could understand such a legislation. But in the U.S.? Unbelievable...
        • 2 Months Ago
        Martin, I concur! GM needs someone to put them in their place... not government aid!
      purrpullberra
      • 11 Months Ago
      State-wide initiatives; that's the answer. They are always popularity contests, the most popular bumper sticker slogan which resonates most easily wins the day. There is no way Tesla could lose in that setting. People rightly hate the dealerships and car salespeople. The FUD about job loses come exclusively from dealership stooges who steal, lie and scam their customers daily and forever. Everyone (70-90% according to polls on this) wants to buy a car from Elon Musk. Initiatives are the way to go to fight this. The only question is; do we try to repeal ALL franchise protection laws? You all know that's my goal. I think it would be perfectly within Tesla's right to fight for that too. Put the shoe on the other foot.
      Stuka87
      • 11 Months Ago
      I despise the current auto sales system. With a Tesla, you get the same price, and same service from every dealer. There is no trying to find the best price, there is no price gouging on high demand models, and you don't have to worry about dealers trying to pull any of their slimy tricks. Now obviously there is the fear that a manufacturer owned dealership chain could employ these tactics, but with any luck consumers would catch on to it and stop buying from that manufacturer.
        d
        • 2 Months Ago
        @Stuka87
        If you don't know how to negotiate it's your own fault. Or do you not like capitalism and prefer the fascist business model of government backed and sponsored TBTF corporations. There is a reason why the dealership model works, it creates competition. What Musk is afraid of is competition between dealers, and the dealer model itself, will drive down margins which will affect the astronomically overvalued shares of Tesla.
          mawhalen53
          • 2 Months Ago
          @d
          Competition takes place in the quality and performance of the product, not who's selling it. Or are you just AFRAID of CAPITALISM???? Would you rather be a COMMIE FASCIST THIRD REICH????
          Grendal
          • 2 Months Ago
          @d
          Your argument just proves that the dealerships are at fault here. They are fighting a war to save their outdated process. The sad thing is that it is a war that they don't have to fight at all. They are just being bullies and whiners.
      CoolWaters
      • 2 Months Ago
      This is Jersey, Tesla needs to bribe, err make a CAMPAIGN CONTRIBUTION to Cristy and all will be well.
      Garp
      • 11 Months Ago
      It's Jersey. I'm sure this can all be cleared up with a suitable "Campaign contribution"
        Joe
        • 2 Months Ago
        @Garp
        There are laws put in place to protect the rights of individuals...that sometimes go beyond corrupt politics and do actually serve a purpose...EVERYONE KNOWS SOMEONE THAT HAS BEEN "SCREWED" BY A DEALERSHIP THATS WHY ITS IMPORTANT DEALERSHIPS ARE REGULATED AND ORGANIZED AND WE DONT JUST BUY CARS LIKE WE DO CLOTHING AND FURNITURE...there are laws dealerships are required to follow in order to insure cars are safe and capable of operation and use and banks and credit unions that carry out loans on those cars are properly represented
          Garp
          • 2 Months Ago
          @Joe
          If dealerships add real value to the transaction then consumer's will continue to go there to purchase vehicles. If on the other hand they are nothing but middlemen, adding cost and overhead and little else, then screw them. The laws about about safety and recalls etc can all be handled equally well at a Manufacturer owned store. The fact that appear to be vehemently opposed to a free and open market speaks volumes. The fact that they appear to own a few politicians isn't exactly surprising either.
        ack154
        • 2 Months Ago
        @Garp
        I would bet that's the reason Christie "[went] back on his word" in the first place...
          Naturenut99
          • 2 Months Ago
          @ack154
          When was the last time a dealer was held accountable for their actions ??? They are the worst type of business. Always sleazy. Always gouging the customer.
          Joe
          • 2 Months Ago
          @ack154
          He's "gone back on his word" to do what...to defend teslas ability to sell cars in a non traditional way. Tesla wants to have a retail store not a dealership. They want to sell cars like people sell high end art and furniture, I don't blame Chris for second guessing his decision to support them in that endeavor. Again there's a reason car buying is set up the way it is, it's a different process than buying furniture, there are regulations in place to insure that dealers and manufacturers live up to their obligations and commitments.
          tinted up
          • 2 Months Ago
          @ack154
          I've gotten some pretty sweet deals from my dealer. I can't usually negotiate a deal less than sticker at an apple store, but I can certainly negotiate a less than sticker deal at my dealership.
      nitrostreet
      • 11 Months Ago
      Maybe this has been discussed on here before, but I don't get why Tesla can't just set up their own thinly veiled "dealer" network, have their lawyers work out some way that Tesla can't be singled out from the rest of the dealers.
        Neez
        • 2 Months Ago
        @nitrostreet
        They could if they struck a deal with dealerships. Mitsubishi dealers seem to be hurting right now. Perhaps they can strike a deal with mitsubishi and allow a franchise partnership since they don't seem to have any competing products.
        raktmn
        • 2 Months Ago
        @nitrostreet
        Because that would destroy Tesla's successful legal arguments they have already used in other states that the franchise laws don't apply to them because they don't have any franchisee's anywhere. The minute they open a single franchise dealership anywhere in any state, this legal argument is instantly destroyed. If that happens, then they have to open the doors to other dealerships also becoming Tesla dealers, forcing them to end direct sales across the US. Basically it would be a domino effect completely ending their current sales model.
        purrpullberra
        • 2 Months Ago
        @nitrostreet
        Would you rather kill off all dealership protection or force Tesla to use/become dealerships? I'm sincerely asking.
      usa1
      • 11 Months Ago
      As much as I like Tesla's push to overturn dealer franchise laws, it's a wasted effort. 50 states, 50 battles. They need to stop being control freaks and leverage dealers to sell their products and instead focus on developing and making cars.
        elctrNmbliT
        • 2 Months Ago
        @usa1
        I disagree. Tesla is the very car company that can get this done by being control freaks. These are cars people really want. It's not too often in history a new car company will come along with a successful product that they can leverage against an old mid 20th century archaic law that no longer applies to the future of automotive technology. If they don't do it then we're stuck with the dealer model for the foreseeable future.
        Jeff
        • 2 Months Ago
        @usa1
        Not really, you only need to get some of the really important states (i.e NY, California, Texas) in the near term where there is sufficient population and desire to buy expensive hybrids. No reason to worry much about Idaho, North Dakota, Montana, etc. Not enough people interested to matter if they can or can't sell there (yet).
      Tom C
      • 11 Months Ago
      This episode neatly illustrates two things: 1. The dealer model is ultimately doomed, the sooner, the better 2. Republicans only pretend to support free markets
        Electron
        • 2 Months Ago
        @Tom C
        @1 How does the remarkable influence those cardealers (and behind them the car industry and behind that the oil industry?) appear to have in the political decision making process spell that their franchise model is doomed? @2 agreed, conservative Americans are basically political orphans when it comes to economic policies.
      Joe
      • 2 Months Ago
      Because you ignorant respondent...CONSUMER PROTECTION...you're not buying a couch or high end art you're buying an automobile under contract!!! States regulate sales licenses to insure the prevention of scandals, false representation and fraud!! It's no different than buying a house where the state regulated mortgages, appraisers and title companies. Buying a car is a TITLE BEARING CONTRACTUAL TRANSACTION...you probably DONT UNDERSTAND what that means...but the next time you're tesla catches on fire, or your wheels fall of your car as you're driving down the freeway you'll understand why that important!!!
      Rotation
      • 2 Months Ago
      Grendal: The ATVM money Ford got isn't the same program as the TARP money Chrysler and GM got. You seem to tie these two together and omit other ATVM loans when saying "Tesla is the only one who paid their loans back". But yes, Ford only recently stopped drawing on their ATVM funds and will repay for a long time. And Ford didn't really use the ATVM funds for much "green" stuff, mostly just for retooling to produce EcoBoosts. It was a backdoor bailout. Ford also received other bailout benefits through their financial arm. Companies began to borrow from their own financial arms to utilize the heavily discounted loans the financial arms (as banks) were getting from the government. And not even just in this country, VW financed a lot of automotive expansion this way in Europe.
      Rotation
      • 2 Months Ago
      I didn't make a fool of myself. I know the subsidy is available to all automakers. But none of them are pretending they worship the free market. Also note that some of the cars you mention only get half as big a subsidy (most of the plug-in hybrids).
      m_2012
      • 2 Months Ago
      Tesla doesn't have a problem with supply and demand. They build the cars after they are ordered; demand always leads supply that way. If the other automakers had a clue, they would do the same. Settling for a car never works well. The established automakers are taking notes. Not only on what to build, but how to build and sell it.
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