The Slatest

Did Chris Christie Just Ban Tesla from New Jersey?

Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla Motors.

Photo by JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images

Tesla is a new kind of carmaker in more ways than one. And its practice of selling cars directly to consumers, rather than through franchise dealerships, hit a snag in New Jersey today when the State’s motor vehicle commission voted to ban the direct sale of automobiles. The decision puts New Jersey alongside Texas and Arizona which have also made direct-to-consumer car sales illegal. New York is also considering a bill of its own.

Tesla Motors, who operates two stores in New Jersey and has sold about 500 cars in the state, will cease sales at the locations on April 1. In a blog post today, the electric car company slammed New Jersey Governor Chris Christie for stifling its operations and innovation, “This is an affront to the very concept of a free market.” Tesla CEO Elon Musk called the move undemocratic.

The Christie administration says Tesla’s new sales model will require additional legislation – and that the company always knew this. According to, the New Jersey Coalition of Automotive Retailers spent more than $155,000 lobbying for the restriction. Looks like their dollars made a difference. What could be more democratic than that?

Previously in Slate: Are Apple and Tesla About to Build a Car?