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Democrats propose bill that would allow Tesla to operate in N.J.

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Tesla vice president for regulatory affairs James Chen speaks Thursday at the Statehouse, joined by Assemblyman Tim Eustace (left) and Majority Leader Lou Greenwald (right).
Tesla vice president for regulatory affairs James Chen speaks Thursday at the Statehouse, joined by Assemblyman Tim Eustace (left) and Majority Leader Lou Greenwald (right). - ()

Assembly Majority Leader Lou Greenwald (D-Voorhees) and Assemblyman Tim Eustace (D-Paramus) unveiled a “compromise” legislation Thursday that would keep Tesla Motors operating in New Jersey.

The state Motor Vehicle Commission decided in March to require that all new cars be sold through a franchised dealer rather directly through a manufacturer, effectively banning Tesla and its business model from the state as of April 1.

The move was criticized by many as a bow to special interest groups and the New Jersey Coalition of Automotive Retailers, which claimed Tesla’s business model presented an unfair advantage.

Though a short two-week reprieve was given, Tesla’s two New Jersey stores have since seen their operating licenses suspended.

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Under the proposed bill, the company would be permitted to sell directly to customers at a total of four licensed locations across the state. One retail facility for vehicle service would also be required.

Greenwald said Thursday that the MVC’s ruling was an “erroneous decision” and that allowing Tesla to operate was about “consumer’s choice.”

“Tesla, in my opinion, is doing everything right,” Greenwald said. “Tesla is a company that we want to see grow.”

Eustace, an electric car driver himself, said it would be “foolhardy” for the state to allow much-needed jobs and tax revenue created by Tesla to go to neighboring states.

“This legislation will incentivize entrepreneurship, create jobs, promote environmental protection and address the important concerns of consumers in our state,” Eustace added.

Also in attendance Thursday was James Chen, Tesla’s vice president for regulatory affairs. Chen said that each of Tesla’s stores in New Jersey generate anywhere from $7 to $10 million for the state.

“When we come into a state, we invest directly back into the state,” Chen said.

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