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Tesla Stores May Be Closed After N.J. Blocks Direct Sales


Tesla Stores May Be Closed After N.J. Blocks Direct Sales

Governor Chris Christie’s administration blocked Tesla Motors Inc. (TSLA), the electric-car maker that doesn’t have franchised retail dealers, from direct auto sales in a move the company said could shutter its only two stores in New Jersey.

The New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission, which includes members of Christie’s cabinet, unanimously approved the proposal yesterday in Trenton, delaying public comment on the matter until after the hearing. Tesla said it learned only a day earlier, after months of negotiations, that the rule change was coming to the most densely populated U.S. state, which is important for reaching customers in the New York metro area.

Christie “has gone back on his word,” Tesla Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk said on Twitter prior to the vote. “His administration, under pressure from auto dealers, may shut down Tesla in NJ as soon as today.”

Tesla is battling dealers state by state to secure or protect the right to sell its cars directly to consumers. Auto dealers in Ohio, New York, Minnesota,Georgia and elsewhere in the past year have sought to block Tesla from directly retailing its models, arguing that independent retailers are better for shoppers and owners of vehicles. Texas dealers successfully backed a law setting the nation’s toughest restrictions on Tesla. ArizonaColorado andVirginia also imposed limits. (Ohnsman and Dopp/Bloomberg)