06.04.2014 - by Michael Thwaite
New Jersey v. the Electric Car – New Jersey is listening. Now is the time for us to speak up!

Back in March I, along with a throng of EV owners watched in disbelief as the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission, spurred on by lobbying from the New Jersey Coalition of Automotive Retailers (NJCAR), voted to deny an extension to Tesla Motors that would have allowed them to continue selling their vehicles in NJ from their two stores. (see previous blogpost for more information)

The greatest irony, for me at least, is that Jim Appleton from NJCAR attempted to convince the assembled crowd that this action was purely in the interests of the consumer – “Who will look after the consumer if the manufacturers are selling directly?” This, whilst my friends Ford Focus EV languishes at the dealer with a mystery problem. It’s been there for a week now – no loaner offered, no explanation for the issues and no expectation of a resolution.

The assembled crowd approached the podium and, one-by-one, contested the decision. Each person sighting unparalleled customer service, an enjoyable buying experience and, an exemplary product. But, it was too late, the decision was made.

With such overwhelming support from the residents of New Jersey, it was not long before a raft of bills were assembled to carve out an exemption to allow EV manufacturers to connect directly with the consumers – something to allow our nascent home-grown electric car industry to get a foothold, and demonstrate an alternative model to the dealer associations that we love so much.

It’s important to note here that not all dealers are cut from the same cloth – there are dealers that ‘get’ the electric car, dealers that understand the new model and how they’ll need to adapt and embrace it to thrive in an EV world however, there are also many that don’t, as Consumer Reports discovered when it went undercover to get the real truth about just how switched on our EV dealers were:
“Dealers not always plugged in about electric cars, Consumer Reports study reveals”

In the meantime here in New Jersey, we’ve had some fun at local events where Tesla has brought “Art work”, from it’s “Gallery” to show to the public. Hamstrung by the rules, Tesla employees cannot talk about the cost of the car or where is can be purchased and, not one has broken the rules but that’s not to say that we haven’t stepped in. It’s quite funny, and somewhat great, to see one enthusiastic Ferrari owning gear head extolling the virtues of the Tesla Model S to his Lamborghini owning compatriate in front of a speechless Tesla Team member.

There’s more good news, it looks like the rules aren’t slowing down EV sales in general, with Nissan reporting a record month for it’s Leaf sales this month however, we do still need to open the doors wider to allow Tesla and all new electric car companies to sell directly into New Jersey whilst we get this revolution rolling.

Please join me if you can in Trenton on Thursday 5th June, 11am at Room 13 (4th floor) of the Statehouse Annex to give testimony to the Assembly Consumer Affairs Committee to support the bill supporting New Jersey and indeed American innovation.

If you can’t make it in person, please reach out to the committee members by email.

Many thanks for your continued support, I feel that we’re on the home stretch and that victory is in sight.

Postscript:

Yesterday (June 5th) was a big success, combined with your outpouring to the Assembly – they looked visibly exhausted from reviewing the huge pile of correspondence – and the people giving testimony, NJEAA, Sierra Club and many more, the Assembly voted unanimously to support the bill – it’s going to the Senate in a week or so.

Thank you so very much for your support, the bill is in the hands of the lawmakers and, judging from yesterdays support, we’re in good shape.

We’ll be following the bill to the Senate and we’ll update you soon. Have a great weekend and enjoy the summer sound of silence in your EV!

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