Update: the Christie administration approved the rule, which means Tesla can not sell its vehicles in the state starting April 1st, even at existing Tesla stores.
Let me put this right out there: time and time again I’ve seen NJ Governor Chris Christie say one thing and do another — of course, he says the right things, but then he goes and does some very wrong things. As a result, I don’t like the guy.
His administration (I have no idea how much he’s involved in this one) has gone and done it again. It has been in communication with Tesla for months regarding how to go about dealing with a dealership attack on Tesla. The plan has been the most logical one: let the matter go through the New Jersey Legislature. But, woops, the Christie Administration seems to have slipped and simply decided to kick Tesla out of New Jersey through executive order. What a great way to run a free-market democracy! (Or, wait, perhaps that would be an competitive, overly regulated, dictatorial “mommy state.”)
Can you tell that this one is irritating me a bit? It’s not just that the Republican Christie administration has, like Texas policymakers, hypocritically decided to interfere in the free market in a way that benefits almost nobody. It’s also the deceitful approach the administration seems to have taken.
Here are plenty more details from Tesla Motors:
Since 2013, Tesla Motors has been working constructively with the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission (NJMVC) and members of Governor 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. Until yesterday, we were under the impression that all parties were working in good faith.
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. Having previously issued two dealer licenses to Tesla, this regulation would be a complete reversal to the long standing position of NJMVC on Tesla’s stores. Indeed, the Administration and the NJMVC are thwarting the Legislature and going beyond their authority to implement the state’s laws at the behest of a special interest group looking to protect its monopoly at the expense of New Jersey consumers. This is an affront to the very concept of a free market.
Proposal PRN 2013-138 seeks to impose stringent licensing rules that would, among other things, require all new motor vehicles to be sold through middlemen and block Tesla’s direct sales model. This move comes in spite of discussions with the Governor’s staff as recently as January, when it was agreed that Tesla and NJ CAR would address their issues in a more public forum: the New Jersey Legislature. Instead, rather than engage in an open debate on such a significant policy issue, the Administration has expedited the implementation of a new law that the Commission intends to stealthily approve at a meeting in Trenton today at 2:00 PM EDT.
We are disappointed in the actions of the NJMVC and the Christie Administration, which come on the heels of more than nine months of unexplained delays in the issuing of a new sales license for Tesla, despite our numerous requests, calls, and letters. In addition, the NJMVC has also delayed the annual renewal of Tesla’s current dealer licenses without indication of the cause of the delay. The delays have handicapped Tesla in New Jersey, where, without clear licensing procedures and fair enforcement of existing law, we have been forced to delay our growth plans. This is an issue that affects not just Tesla customers, but also New Jersey citizens at large, because Tesla would be unable to create new jobs or participate in New Jersey’s economic revival.
At the same time, neither Tesla nor the taxpayers of New Jersey have been able to participate in any of the analysis or been granted a hearing as requested last year when this was first proposed. Despite being the subject of the regulation, we were only able to obtain information about today’s meeting with less than 24 hours notice and in direct contravention of assurances by the Governor.
We strongly believe it is vital to introduce our own vehicles to the market because electric cars are still a relatively new technology. This model is not just a matter of selling more cars and providing optimum consumer choice for Americans, but it is also about educating consumers about the benefits of going electric, which is central to our mission to accelerate the shift to sustainable transportation, a new paradigm in automotive technology.
We urge the Christie administration to act in good faith and withdraw the proposed amendment, or amend it so that it reflects the true intent of the Legislature and the people of New Jersey.