As if Bridgegate wasn’t enough, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s administration just made one move that's angered both the right and the left: Essentially banning beloved electric-car maker Tesla from the Garden state.
New Jersey motor vehicle officials approved a rule Tuesday that would require all car companies to sell their vehicles through franchised dealers instead of directly to customers. The move essentially prevents Tesla from selling cars in New Jersey because the electric vehicle maker owns its own stores. Most auto makers sell vehicles through franchises.
On April 1 the company will stop selling cars in the state.
The blow by a Republican governor delivered to liberal and environmentalist darling Tesla sparked outrage among conservatives too, many of whom view it as an unnecessary government intrusion into the free market. Libertarian website, Reason.com, criticized the Tesla ban in a post Tuesday, saying it came from “the school of ‘anything not permitted is prohibited.’ ”
The ban comes after big lobbying push by the auto dealers. The New Jersey Coalition of Automotive Retailers spent upwards of $150,000 on lobbying efforts last year and dozens of individual car dealers and dealership groups donated heavily to the governor. In all, Christie received more than $60,000 in donations from dealerships. At least $40,000 of that amount came in the general election when the governor accepted state matching funds, so each dollar was worth $3 in the governor's coffers, according to the NJ.com.
Tesla blasted the decision in a blog post Tuesday, arguing that it’s “vital” for the company to introduce its own cars to potential buyers in order sell them on the merits of going electric.
“This is an affront to the very concept of a free market,” the company wrote in the blog post.
Christie spokesman Kevin Roberts told the Associated Press Tuesday that officials made clear to Tesla that the company would have to go through the New Jersey legislature to legalize its direct sales model.
"This 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," Roberts told the AP.
Texas and Arizona have already banned the Tesla sales model. But as the Verge points out, New Jersey has a much larger luxury car sales market than either of those two states. Tesla sells just one model, priced at $71,000.
Ohio is also considering banning the Tesla model.
Despite the pushback from lawmakers, Tesla has been on a tear over the past year. The stock is now hovering near $250 -- last year it was under $50.