New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has signed a bill that will let Tesla sell its electric cars directly to consumers — handing Elon Musk's company a major victory over traditional dealerships that opposed the move.

The battle has been a fraught one between Tesla and dealerships that sell traditional cars on behalf of automakers such as Ford, Chrysler or Toyota. In general, dealerships have immense influence among state and local lawmakers and strongly opposed Tesla selling cars on its own, outside of their showrooms.

The Federal Trade Commission has criticized the industry's strategy as "protectionist." Musk has had stronger words, comparing the opposition from the dealers to a “mafia version of ‘protection.’”

New Jersey is one of the few states to have reversed itself on this front. Last March, Christie  banned the sale of Teslas to New Jersey residents without going through franchise dealerships. But Christie left open the possibility of changing his mind if the state legislature voted to permit direct sales.

"We’re pleased that manufacturers like Tesla will now have the opportunity to establish direct sales operations for consumers in a manner lawfully in New Jersey," said Christie in a statement Wednesday.

We've written before about why Tesla doesn't just work with the dealerships — it has a lot to do with Musk wanting to maintain control of his brand. But that's made it difficult for Tesla to expand its sales in many states. Arizona, among others, also prohibits Tesla from selling its cars to consumers.

"We are proud to tell New Jersey that we are open for business," said Diarmuid O'Connell, Tesla's vice president of corporate business development.