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Legislation would remove restrictions on electric vehicle sales in New York: Does it have a chance?

A new piece of legislation would provide New Yorkers with further access to electric vehicles.

The Direct EV Sales bill, still under consideration by the New York Legislature, would remove restrictions on the sale of electric vehicles. Currently, five stores, all of which are downstate in New York City and Long Island, can sell EVs directly to consumers.

James Chen, vice president of public policy for Rivian, argued allowing more access is long overdue. As the U.S. makes the push to get more people driving electric vehicles, Chen said the lack of direct sales has been a roadblock.

“The prohibition of direct sales in a number of states including New York has really stifled the ability for consumers to learn about them,” Chen asserted. “I mean, at the end of the day, to be able to purchase or to be able to sell electric vehicles, there’s a lot more involved than the traditional gasoline-powered vehicles.”

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He noted when people go to buy a gasoline-powered vehicle, more research is done beforehand, and they are more familiar with the technology. However, without direct sales, people are left with many questions about EVs dealers are not able to answer right away. Chen pointed out unfamiliarity has kept electric vehicles from being in vogue, but he said passage of the bill would address many lingering doubts.

Despite moving toward electric vehicles, there still are plenty of detractors, who Chen sees as motivated by misconceptions. One, in particular, claims EVs are somehow lesser than gasoline-powered cars.

“I think the biggest misconception is that the vehicle is somehow a compromise, whether it be range or the ability to find a place to charge up,” Chen emphasized. “Most people will charge up, 70% to 80% of charging will be done at home. You come home at night, you plug in your vehicle, and you wake up every morning with a quote unquote ‘full tank.’ “

Some critics contended the legislation gets around current regulations. Chen countered the measure would allow electric-vehicle companies to invest in New York state and widen the market for consumer variety.

He added it would regulate new EV companies and allow people more alternatives for where to buy EVs.