On Wednesday, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie signed into law a bill that allows Tesla to sell its electric cars directly to consumers. No dealers necessary.
Christie’s action came after the New Jersey state Senate passed a bill that, as Fortune reported, was “unanimously” approved by the Assembly last year.
“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,” Governor Christie 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,” Christie added.
As Fortune’s Kirsten Korosec reported: “[the bill] allows zero-emissions vehicle manufacturers to sell cars directly to consumers at up to four licensed locations in New Jersey. Tesla has three galleries in New Jersey, where customers can learn about and test drive the Model S.”
Tesla has been waging an ongoing battle against the very entrenched network of car dealers in the US. Franchise laws that date back deep into the 20th century prohibit automakers from selling the cars directly to buyers.
Instead, car dealers act as middlemen, holding cars in inventory, providing financing and insurance services, marketing in their regions, and servicing vehicles. Each state has its own laws on the books, so Tesla has been fighting its battle on a state-by-state basis.
With New Jersey bill becoming law, Tesla buyers can now go to one of the company’s stores in the state and actually place and order for a car.
Currently, this is impossible. Although in theory a buyer could go to a Tesla store, check out a Models S sedan, and then head to the nearest Starbucks to place an order online.
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