New York Lawmakers Seek to Expand Electric Vehicle Access By Allowing Direct Sales

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NEW YORK NOW –  State lawmakers are looking to expand access to electric vehicles by allowing more manufacturers to sell directly to consumers in New York, in an effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Legislators held a press conference in Albany Wednesday morning to push for a proposal that would allow for manufacturers other than Tesla to sell vehicles right to consumers.

Senate Environmental Chair Todd Kaminsky, D-Nassau Credit: New York NOW

Sen. Todd Kaminsky, a Democrat from Long Island who sponsors the bill, said that New York is lagging behind California by a significant margin when it comes to sales of zero-emissions vehicles, making this measure more urgent now than ever before.

“I think this year the stars are aligning. We have a great number of champions in the Legislature, and a great number of environmental advocacy organizations that know we need to do something to get more zero-emission vehicles on the road,” Kaminsky said.

“We want to make it easier for customers to have access to them wherever you live in New York state, not just in the downstate markets.”

The primary motivation for that push is a series of goals laid out in the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA.) Since then, a bill has also passed in both houses of the Legislature requiring all new passenger vehicles being sold or leased in the state to have zero emissions by 2035.

The Senate sponsor of that bill, Sen. Pete Harckham, D-Westchester, said the message sent by passing his bill won’t be effective if there aren’t changes to support the use of electric vehicles.

“Well, how can we do that if we have a prohibition on direct sales of electric vehicles here in New York?” Harckham said.

“Unfortunately, half a dozen years ago, New York injected itself in the fair marketplace, and it stifled competition. That’s why we’re lagging all these other states.”

Supporters of the bill also say that allowing more direct sales will drive down the cost of electric vehicles for consumers and justify the creation of additional infrastructure like charging stations.

The Alliance for Automotive Innovation, a group representing car manufactures, said the change would unfairly benefit some carmakers, while putting others at a disadvantage.

“Unfortunately, some want to give certain companies special treatment in this very competitive market by allowing them to operate outside of the state’s automobile distribution laws,” said John Bozzella, the group’s president.

“Any of these companies could open a store in New York tomorrow, they simply need to follow the state’s existing auto distribution laws.”

The measure is currently in the Transportation Committee in both the Assembly and Senate, with advocates looking to have it passed before the end of the legislative session in June.