The Assembly unanimously approved a bill (A5033) on January 11 that authorizes the online sales of motor vehicles by allowing dealers to obtain electronic signatures on documents required to complete such transactions. The bill, if passed by the Legislature and signed by Governor Murphy, would formally allow motor vehicle sales to be conducted fully online and would require the Motor Vehicle Commission (MVC) to accept electronically signed transaction documents and non-notarized signatures on any transaction documents completed by a licensed motor vehicle dealer. In essence, the bill would remove the regulatory hurdles to the virtual car-buying process contained in current State law.
In April 2020, at the peak of COVID-19 pandemic, New Jersey new car sales plummeted nearly 80%, as motor vehicle dealers were forced to close their doors due to statewide stay-at-home restrictions. Online sales were allowed, but customers were still required to come to the dealership to sign necessary paperwork. Dealerships around the State quickly adapted, ramping up or expanding their online operations, even after NJ CAR successfully lobbied for in-person sales to resume in May 2020.
The legislation also sets requirements for used car dealers, including maintaining an office space in the state and displaying clear signage. This language was included to prevent internet fraudsters or unlicensed fly-by-night brokers from exploiting relaxed online and remote sales regulations. This bill allows ONLY properly licensed new and used car dealers to engage in online and remote sales or take advantage of new e-transmission and e-signature procedures for titling and registering motor vehicles.
A Senate companion bill, S3279, was introduced last month and is currently pending in the Senate Transportation Committee.