The founder of Tesla Motors, Elon Musk, recently released a statement condemning New Jersey governor Chris Christie for banning the sale of electric vehicles directly to consumers. Musk believes that, in the past, laws were created to protect auto dealers from being cheated by car manufacturers, but now the law is being twisted to punish companies who develop new and innovative approaches in the automotive world.
According to Musk, auto dealers have a “fundamental conflict of interest” when it comes to promoting gas cars and electric cars. He believes that selling through dealerships would hurt the Tesla brand, because educating consumers about the benefits of clean energy would be a harder sell. Not only that, but because of the lack of routine maintenance like oil changes or smog checks, dealerships would lose out on potential recurring revenue by offering electric cars. (In fact, Tesla’s business model purposely de-prioritizes servicing charges as a major source of revenue.) Musk pointed to the failure of Fisker, Coda, and other electric car startups to make his case that dealers simply do not have the interests of companies like Tesla at heart.
Tesla Motors intends to continue selling its cars in New Jersey until April 1st, when the new rules go into effect. At that point, the companies stories will transition into “galleries,” where prospective buyers can look at cars and ask questions about how they work. If they decide to buy, they’ll have to travel to Manhattan or Philadelphia to complete their purchase — or even be named a price. The company is also offering vehicles for order online, which can be delivered to New Jersey addresses.