A Missouri circuit judge has ruled that an electric car maker cannot sell its vehicles directly to customers.

Cole County Circuit Judge Daniel Green ruled Wednesday that the Missouri Revenue Department violated state law by licensing California-based Tesla Motors as a franchise.

That designation gave company the ability to sell cars to customers instead of working through a dealership. The Missouri Automobile Dealers Association in response sued the Revenue Department, saying it gave Tesla special privileges.

Tesla had called the lawsuit an attempt to decrease competition.

A spokeswoman for the state attorney general's office, which represents the Revenue Department, says it's reviewing the ruling.

Tesla didn't immediately respond to an Associated Press request for comment Thursday.

Kurt Parsons