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tesla-chargerThe New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission approved a rule today that bars car manufacturers like Tesla from selling vehicles directly to the public. Instead, all car sales in the state must take place through franchises.

That’s a big problem for the electric car maker, which currently only sells its vehicles through company-owned stores, rather than adopting a franchise model like traditional auto manufacturers. For its part, Tesla said that it believes it needs to run its own dealerships.

“We strongly believe it is vital to introduce our own vehicles to the market because electric cars are still a relatively new technology,” the company said in a blog post published before today’s regulatory action.

The company wasn’t pleased with the Christie Administration’s decision to push ahead with the rule, calling it an “affront to the very concept of a free market.”

It’s another fight in a long series of regulatory battles for the electric car manufacturer, which is based in Palo Alto, Calif. New Jersey joins Arizona and Texas as states that ban the company from selling cars directly to consumers from company-owned stores. The new regulations come less than a month after Tesla skidded by a similar potential regulatory bottleneck in Washington state. The car company was exempted from a Washington State bill, one that bars other car companies from opening up company-owned dealerships rather than creating franchises in the state.

The fight isn’t over for Tesla in New Jersey, though. Today’s decision still leaves open the possibility of legislative action. In the event the legislature says that Tesla can sell their cars directly to consumers, the company would be able to begin doing business again the same way it has in the past.

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