Tesla allowed to sell cars in NJ after sales ban lifted

New Jersey has legalized the direct sales of Tesla cars.

Gov. Chris Christie on Wednesday signed into law new legislation that allows the makers of zero emissions automobiles to sell them to customers needing to go through franchised dealers.

Tesla sales were halted last year when the NJ Motor Vehicle Commission began enforcing a rule requiring all automakers to sell cars through franchised dealerships, an action supported by the New Jersey Coalition of Automotive Retailers (NJCAR.)

Since then Tesla, which had previously sold cars in the state, was only allowed to operate showrooms, which it calls "galleries," that were barred from any sales activities.

“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 press release. “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.”

Tesla responded to the news on Twitter

A huge victory in New Jersey for consumer choice: We are open for business! @GovChristie

— Tesla Motors (@TeslaMotors) March 18, 2015

The new law allows zero emissions car companies like Tesla to operate up to four direct sales showrooms, and requires them to have at least one service center in the state.

NJCAR President JAMES B. APPLETON issued a statement reiterating the organization's position that direct sales create a vertical monopoly that eliminates competitive pressure on pricing and limits access to warranty and safety recall service to the detriment of consumers.

Tesla is continuing to fight similar direct sales bans that are currently in place Michigan, Texas, Arizona and Maryland.