New Jersey: Need 100% Electric Car Sales By 2035

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California recently announced a plan to start banning sales of gas cars in 2035, an increase in the timeline from an earlier plan to do so by 2040. The 11th most populated state in the country, New Jersey, isn’t quite ready to announce a plan to ban sales, but it also says that 100% of the state’s new car sales need to be electric by 2035.

Last week, New Jersey published the Global Warming Response Act 80×50 Report. The report explains what the state needs to do to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2050 (based on 2006 levels), a 2006 legislative mandate the state must act on.

“Our administration has taken the climate crisis head-on since day one. But the challenge before us demands more,” Governor Phil Murphy said.

The first chapter of the report covers transportation because transportation is the largest single source of global warming pollution in the state, accounting for more than 40% of the state’s greenhouse gas emissions!

As everyone knows by now, there’s one clear way to cut transportation emissions: electrify your vehicles, and then power those vehicles with electricity from clean renewable energy sources.

Following the release of the Global Warming Response Act 80×50 Report, three days ago, the state enacted a bill that puts in place standards for installing EV charging stations at condos and in homeowners’ associations. Both are notorious for not allowing charging stations and making it hard or impossible to get them installed. These standards should break down some of those barriers, but the state could go further by requiring charging stations in such places, or requiring that if a resident wants to install one, she or he must be permitted to do so.

This is not New Jersey’s first move on electrification of transport. In 2019, the state created the strongest EV subsidy in the country — a $5,000 rebate if you buy an EV. It also required that all state-owned vehicles be electric by 2035. The state also set a 2025 sales target of 330,000 electric vehicles.

Hawaii and Washington are the only US states to have more aggressive targets for phasing out gasoline-powered cars than California and New Jersey. They intend to cut off sales of gasoline cars by 2030.

I think these are all actually very safe targets. The free market will drive gas cars away by 2035 or even 2030 in those states anyway. But the targets allow a good kind of framework for other policies and as a notification to consumers and businesses that right now don’t realize where the technology is headed. It is like setting the table. It tells more people — “hey, it’s time to come eat — and also buy an electric car.”

For more on New Jersey’s latest transportation-electrification plans, below is the full transportation section of the Global Warming Response Act 80×50 Report (excluding the two shown further up in this article).

The transportation sector is the largest source of New Jersey’s GHG emissions. To achieve the 80×50 emissions reduction goal, significant electric vehicle adoption rates outlined in the 2019 EMP must be realized. DEP estimates that the 2019 EMP adoption rates will reduce transportation emissions by 87%, to 5.4 MMT CO2e by 2050.

Currently, gasoline-fueled vehicles account for over 70% of the transportation sector’s emissions. The 2019 EMP’s least cost scenario modeling calculated that 88% of new light-duty vehicle sales (passenger cars, SUVs and light-duty trucks) will need to be electric or hydrogen-powered by 2030, rising to 100% by 2035, in order to achieve the 80×50 goal (Figure ES.4).

Currently, New Jerseyans purchase more than 500,000 fossil fuel powered passenger vehicles annually and existing policies and programs are not sufficient by themselves to achieve the levels of market penetration necessary to transform the transportation sector. The 330,000 light-duty electric vehicles on the road by 2025 that New Jersey set as its goal in the 2018 Multistate Memorandum of Understanding are expected to reduce the state’s GHG emissions by 1.4 MMT CO2e by 2025. The 2019 Electric Vehicle Law (EV Law) (P.L. 2019, c.362) goal of 2 million light-duty electric vehicles by 2035 will achieve an additional reduction of 7.3 MMT CO2e. While the EV Law provides incentives to jumpstart these efforts, the 2019 EMP indicates that electric vehicle adoption rates must dramatically increase from today’s rate of 8,000 annual electric vehicle purchases to more than 111,000 annually, with significant continual increases until 2035, when all new light-duty vehicle sales will need to be electric in order to achieve the goal. As called for in the 2019 EMP, additional policies and initiatives are needed to achieve these objectives.

Continued orders-of-magnitude increases in electric vehicle adoption rates are critical for New Jersey to eliminate the 28 MMT CO2e emitted annually by light duty vehicles (cars, SUVs and light-duty trucks). While the 2019 EV Law has begun to carve a path for electric vehicle adoption, significant increases in subsidies and disincentives to reduce the consumption of gasoline will ultimately be necessary. Additional strategies for reducing the 7.4 MMT CO2e emitted annually from medium- and heavy-duty diesel vehicles must also be implemented. It will be necessary to support a combination of technologies — including electric batteries, hydrogen fuel and renewable biofuels — that best address the end use and purpose of medium- and heavy-duty vehicles. One such example is the strategies currently being developed by the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (EDA) for facilitating new investments in medium- and heavy-duty vehicle electrification using the state’s proceeds from RGGI.

In order to promote and support the increased adoption of electric vehicles, it is urgent that New Jersey pursue a significant and visible buildout of public electric vehicle charging stations. Electric vehicle chargers must become as commonplace as gasoline refueling stations to enable widescale acceptance and adoption of electric vehicles. The 2019 EV Law requirement for the installation of 200 public fast charging stations (employing 400 chargers) over the next five years is a significant step towards that goal. The law also calls for 1,000 public Level Two chargers in the state by 2025 and sets targets for chargers in multifamily and overnight lodging establishments.

Several electric vehicle infrastructure initiatives are already underway or in planning stages including efforts to streamline the local approval process, prioritizing funding for Direct Current Fast Chargers, as well as the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (BPU) Board Order for a charging ecosystem which outlines the role of utilities and advancing public private partnerships. To build on this momentum, state agencies, local governments, utilities and private companies must work together to identify public electrification density needs and implement a long-term infrastructure development program to build-out a statewide electric vehicle charging network.

In addition to other resources that policymakers could make available, existing funding sources such as the Clean Energy Fund and RGGI auction proceeds can continue to be allocated to advance these goals. Importantly, deeper investment in this effort will also create hundreds of new jobs, resulting in growth in New Jersey’s clean energy economy, and the reduction of co-pollutants that can disproportionately impact public health in low-income and minority environmental justice communities. In addition to a significant effort to electrify vehicles, other innovative solutions must be explored to reduce GHG emissions from the transportation sector. The recent experience of many New Jerseyans during the COVID-19 pandemic has served as a proof of concept for the long-theorized ability of institutions and businesses to integrate remote work programs while maintaining productivity. This paradigm has provided an opportunity to realize significant short term, emission reductions in the transportation sector. To the extent that it supports a healthy economy, more permanent remote work solutions should be explored.

In sum, to reduce the transportation sector’s overwhelming contribution to New Jersey’s GHG emissions and meet our the 80×50 goal, New Jersey must:

1. Implement legislative, regulatory and programmatic reforms to facilitate a rapid and complete transition away from fossil-powered vehicles, ensuring average adoption rates of at least 111,000 new electric vehicles annually through 2025 with continued increasing adoption rates until all new sales of light-duty cars, SUVs, and trucks are electric by 2035.

2. Implement a long-term infrastructure development program dedicated to constructing a statewide electric vehicle charging network.

3. Transition to complete electrification of the state government vehicle fleet and incentivize county and local governments to lead by example by electrifying their vehicle fleets.

4. Identify regulatory, funding and financing mechanisms to convert medium- and heavy-duty vehicles to electric, renewable biodiesel and hydrogen fuel sources.

In addition to electrification, complementary policies should be pursued to reduce emissions from the transportation sector as quickly as possible, including:

1. Increase ridership on mass transit.

2. Expand transit-oriented development such as Transit Villages and Rural Town Centers.

3. Incentivize work-from-home programs and flexible work weeks, in order to reduce single-occupancy vehicle trips.

4. Collaborate with other states through regional partnerships and strategies to further reduce emissions from fossil-fueled vehicles.

These complementary policies can achieve near-term, cost-effective emissions reductions while electric transportation infrastructure is built out and technologies mature.

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Zachary Shahan

Zach is tryin' to help society help itself one word at a time. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director, chief editor, and CEO. Zach is recognized globally as an electric vehicle, solar energy, and energy storage expert. He has presented about cleantech at conferences in India, the UAE, Ukraine, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, the USA, Canada, and Curaçao. Zach has long-term investments in Tesla [TSLA], NIO [NIO], Xpeng [XPEV], Ford [F], ChargePoint [CHPT], Amazon [AMZN], Piedmont Lithium [PLL], Lithium Americas [LAC], Albemarle Corporation [ALB], Nouveau Monde Graphite [NMGRF], Talon Metals [TLOFF], Arclight Clean Transition Corp [ACTC], and Starbucks [SBUX]. But he does not offer (explicitly or implicitly) investment advice of any sort.

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