Christie Puts Blame on N.J. Lawmakers for Tesla Sales Ban

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By Elise Young

Governor Chris Christie said New Jersey lawmakers were to blame for a law that bars Tesla Motors Inc. (TSLA) from selling its electric cars directly to consumers.

New Jersey’s eight-member Motor Vehicle Commission, made up of members of Christie’s cabinet and others appointed by the Republican governor, voted unanimously March 11 to block Tesla from direct sales.

The Palo Alto, California-based automaker is battling car dealers state by state who want sales to go through them. Dealers in Ohio, New York, Minnesota, Georgia and elsewhere have argued that independent retailers are better for shoppers and vehicle owners. Texas dealers successfully backed a law setting the nation’s toughest restrictions on Tesla. Arizona, Colorado and Virginia also imposed limits.

Christie, 51, who encourages businesses to move to New Jersey to help revive its economy, said he didn’t push Tesla out. Instead, he said, “The state legislature did” by prohibiting Tesla’s business model.

“Tesla was operating outside the law,” Christie said yesterday at a town hall meeting in South River. “I have no problem with Tesla selling directly to customers, except it’s against the law in New Jersey.”

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