New Jersey Assembly Approves Bill to Allow Tesla Sales

The New Jersey Assembly approved a bill to allow consumers to buy electric cars directly from a manufacturer. The bill now heads to the state Senate.

The move yesterday follows the March 11 vote of the eight-member state Motor Vehicle Commission, which consists of members of Republican Governor Chris Christie’s cabinet and other gubernatorial appointees, to block Tesla Motors Inc. (TSLA) from direct sales.

“Tesla is an innovative company that has produced a top-rated, environmentally conscious product,” Assembly Majority Leader Louis Greenwald, a Voorhees Democrat, said in a statement. “Their commitment to innovation, job-creation and customer satisfaction is precisely the kind of entrepreneurial spirit we should be encouraging in New Jersey. Unfortunately, the Motor Vehicle Commission’s decision threatened to hamstring those efforts.”

The Palo Alto, California-based automaker is battling car dealers state by state that want sales to go through them. Christie, 51, believes Tesla needs the legislature to lift the state’s direct-sales prohibition, a spokesman, Kevin Roberts, said after the commission’s vote.

The Christie administration “does not find it appropriate to unilaterally change the way cars are sold in New Jersey without legislation and Tesla has been aware of this position since the beginning,” the statement said.

The legislation would allow any zero-emission vehicle manufacturer to directly sell to a consumer if it was licensed by the Motor Vehicle Commission on or before Jan. 1, 2014. It needs approval from the Senate before it reaches Christie’s desk. Democrats control both chambers.

To contact the reporter on this story: Stacie Sherman in Trenton at sbabula@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Stephen Merelman at smerelman@bloomberg.net Alan Goldstein

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