Cars Tesla Store
Image Credit: Tesla

Published on March 13th, 2014 | by Zachary Shahan


Does The Other Side Of The Tesla–New Jersey Controversy Have A Point (or Three)?

Tesla Store Image Credit: Tesla

I presented the Tesla side of the New Jersey sales ban yesterday. Jeff Cobb of has since gone and done a great job digging up and presenting the other side of the story — the only one I’ve seen to do that. I think it’s worth a read.

Notably, there are also a lot of good comments on that article worth a read (which are primarily on the Tesla side), including a link to a strong argument for direct manufacturer sales to customers. Check them out if you have the time.

I’m tempted to throw in my take again here, but will try to keep that short using bullet points:

  • Selling electric vehicles through the typical dealership model is a horrible option that surely results in drastically fewer EV sales. It is holding up societal progress.
  • The typical dealership model is generally broken anyway, resulting in higher costs for consumers and a rather poor customer experience.
  • Whether the laws on the books allow for Tesla’s sales model or not, I think it’s clear that Tesla should be able to sell its vehicles through a different system, perhaps with some form of additional regulation. We live in the 21st century. Direct sales without the interference of middlemen should be a possibility today, especially when there genuinely isn’t another decent sales channel available for the product. Again, regulations that help to instill more consumer protection into the system (rather than simply relying on the goodwill of Tesla and any companies that copy it) can come with that.
  • If New Jersey granted Tesla licenses to sell its cars through its own stores, backtracking on that sets a horrible precedence for business in the state, and seems absurd. Work through the Legislature to create a better system, but don’t go back on what you’ve already approved and kick a high-growth company out of your state.
  • And, to Tesla: move more quickly on a legislative solution that makes your sales model completely legal and legitimate (assuming it isn’t currently, based on the commentary by Jim Appleton, president of the New Jersey Coalition of Automotive Retailers, and statements by Tesla itself that it had agreed with the Christie administration to work on the matter in the NJ Legislature).
  • To auto dealerships: shape up fast if you want to survive. An electric vehicle transition is underway, as is a more customer-friendly-service transition. Don’t suck so bad at selling EVs, and find a way to change your business structure such that you can come closer to the top-notch customer service that Tesla provides its customers. Otherwise, stop blocking progress to a better technology and better sales system.

Anyway, enough of my rambling, read Jeff’s article.

Image Credit: Tesla

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About the Author

is tryin' to help society help itself (and other species) one letter at a time. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director and chief editor. Otherwise, he's probably enthusiastically fulfilling his duties as the director/editor of EV Obsession, Gas2, Solar Love, Planetsave, or Bikocity; or as president of Important Media. Zach is recognized globally as a solar energy, electric car, energy storage, and wind energy expert. If you would like him to speak at a related conference or event, connect with him via social media:, .

  • Hans

    The arguments against the direct sales of Tesla cars come done to: “a
    free market for cars doesn’t give the best results for costumers, that
    is why the government should intervene and make sales via franchise
    dealers obligatory “. This is funny because it comes from the right-way
    -free-markets-solve-all-problems type of people. This illustrates that
    these people not really believe the free market ideology that they
    preach. They just use it opportunistically to defend the vested
    interests that pay into their campaign fund.

    • Larry

      Correct! You hit the bulls eye. ” Do as I say, not as I do ” is the self serving motto preached by that crowd since day one

    • Exactly.

  • Matt

    If I as a auto manufacture went the dealer route. Then not being able to sell those cars direct to comsumer IMHO is fair. I asked the dealer to invest lots of their money to set up the dealership. Now I’m going to cut them out?

    But if my company never sold local dealership, then where is the conflict?
    Does this put old school Auto companies at a disadvantage with TESLA? Some would say yes, but that does that means that the old school kids should fix their broken system.

  • sault

    Frankly, requiring middlemen to get cars to consumers is a bunch of antiquated cronyism that does NOTHING to help consumers. The original reason they were required is to keep car companies from moving into a city or a region and just taking over the market. This is NOT an issue anymore. Jim Appleton, president of the New Jersey Coalition of Automotive Retailers (NJ CAR), then switches to the nonsense argument of:

    “When an automaker sees a warranty or safety recall claim, they see expense. When an automotive retailer, an independent automotive retailer sees there is a warranty or safety recall claim, they see opportunity and revenue.”
    From GM-Volt article
    Seriously? When GM, Toyota or what have you is facing a recall, they won’t make the decision that’s in the best interests of their company, which is to recall vehicles and minimize the negative publicity as much as possible? Does Appleton even understand how things work nowadays?

  • “Does The Other Side Of The Tesla–New Jersey Controversy Have A Point (or Three)?”

    Legally, I think so. I’m not a lawyer.

    Morally, absolutely not.

  • Robert Fahey
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