Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) has posted an update on the fight for its direct to consumer sales model in New Jersey, pointing the figure directly at Gov. Chris Christie's office. The automaker said in its blog that it has been "working constructively" with his administration and the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission to defend against the New Jersey Coalition of Automotive Retailers. Tesla said that "until yesterday," they were "under the impression that all parties were working in good faith," but now, the automaker says that isn't the case at all.
Auto dealers battle Tesla in New Jersey
Auto dealerships in New Jersey and around the country have been trying various tactics to keep Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) from selling its vehicles directly to consumers rather than through dealerships. Dealer associations have tried outlaw Tesla's sales model through lobbying and legislation, with varying degrees of success in different states.
Today Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) said it found out on Monday that Gov. Chris 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." Instead, the automaker claims that his administration "has decided to go outside the legislative process by expediting a rule proposal that would completely change the law in New Jersey.
Tesla accuses Christie administration
If the new rule ends up being adopted, Tesla Motors INc (NASDAQ:TSLA) said it would jeopardize its current retail licenses in New Jersey. The automaker currently holds two dealer licenses, and the rule would completely reverse the position of the state's department of motor vehicles regarding Tesla stores. According to Tesla, Christie's administration is essentially going outside the law.
"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," Tesla wrote. "This is an affront to the very concept of a free market."
How New Jersey is targeting Tesla
Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) said proposal PRN 2013-138 would impose strict licensing rules that would require all automakers to use dealerships. That's even though Tesla has been speaking with Gov. Chris Christie's outgoing Chief Counsel Charlie McKenna and incoming Chief Counsel Chris Porrino as recently as January. At that time, Tesla said they agreed that Tesla and NJ dealerships "would address their issues in a more public forum: the New Jersey Legislature." Instead, the automaker said Chris Christie's administration "expedited the implementation of a new law that the commission intends to stealthily approve at a meeting today.
Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) also said neither it nor NJ taxpayers "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 [sic] notice and in direct contravention of assurances by the Governor."