If legislation approved by the New Jersey Assembly eventually becomes law, you wouldn't need to step one foot inside a car dealership in order to purchase one of their vehicles — even to sign off on the deal.

Under the proposed law, car sales can be conducted fully online. Online sales have been given the green light during the pandemic under an executive order signed by Gov. Phil Murphy, but customers have still been required to visit the dealership in person to sign necessary paperwork. Under the bill, the Motor Vehicle Commission would be required to accept documents signed via e-signature.

"Just as people can sign many other legally binding documents online, there's no reason car buyers shouldn't be able to electronically sign papers to purchase a vehicle," said Assemblyman Anthony Verrelli, D-Mercer.

According to NJ.com, new car sales plummeted as much as 80% in New Jersey compared to the year prior during the early months of the pandemic in 2020.

"There is a growing segment of the population, especially post-COVID, that wants an entirely remote and contactless purchase process," Jim Appleton, president of the New Jersey Coalition of Automotive Retailers, told New Jersey 101.5. "Car dealers want to do business with their customers where, when and how the customer wants to do business."

As for actually getting behind the wheel of your purchase, Appleton said dealers offer delivery as well as curbside pickup of vehicles.

"This is something that the audio industry embraces. We need to change with the times, and COVID has encouraged us to do that quickly," Appleton said.

According to Appleton, the move would not get rid of the need for salespeople and product specialists who can help customers navigate a purchase decision.

The measure was approved unanimously by the Assembly on Jan. 11. A companion measure in the Senate has been referred to the House's transportation committee.

Contact reporter Dino Flammia at dino.flammia@townsquaremedia.com.

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