New Jersey has announced its plan to phase out the sales of new gasoline-powered vehicles by 2035, following the footsteps of California and other states. The move is part of the state’s efforts to combat climate change and achieve 100% clean energy by 2035.
On February 15, 2023, Governor Phil Murphy signed two executive orders that set the stage for the transition to electric vehicles (EVs) in New Jersey. The first order directs the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to adopt regulations that require all new passenger cars and light-duty trucks sold or registered in the state to be zero-emission vehicles by 2035. The second order establishes an interagency council to coordinate the implementation of the state’s clean transportation policies and programs.
Governor Murphy said in a tweet:
Today is a good day. I am proud to announce that we’re accelerating New Jersey’s goal of reaching a 100% clean energy future ahead by 15 years – from 2050 to 2035. We’ve turned our vision for a greener tomorrow into a roadmap to guide us along the way.
The tweet also included a graphic that outlined the state’s six big steps to fight climate change, which include:
- Requiring all new cars sold in New Jersey to be zero-emission vehicles by 2035
- Achieving 100% carbon-free electricity by 2035
- Installing zero-carbon-emission space heating and cooling systems in 400,000 homes and 20,000 commercial properties by 2030
- Making 10% of all low- to moderate-income properties electrification-ready by 2030
- Proposing new flood protection rules to safeguard communities from sea level rise and storm surges
- Investing $70 million in new grant funding to support medium- and heavy-duty electric vehicle adoption
The Benefits and Challenges of EVs
The transition to EVs is expected to bring multiple benefits to New Jersey, such as reducing greenhouse gas emissions, improving air quality, lowering fuel and maintenance costs, creating jobs, and enhancing energy security. According to the DEP, transportation accounts for 42% of the state’s greenhouse gas emissions, and switching to EVs could reduce those emissions by 14 million metric tons per year by 2035.
However, the transition also poses significant challenges, such as building adequate charging infrastructure, ensuring affordability and accessibility of EVs, educating consumers and dealers, and coordinating with utilities and regional partners. The state has already taken some steps to address these challenges, such as:
- Adopting the California Low Emission Vehicle Program, which sets stricter emission standards for new vehicles and requires automakers to sell a certain percentage of EVs in the state
- Joining the Transportation and Climate Initiative, which aims to create a regional cap-and-trade program for transportation fuels and invest the proceeds in clean transportation projects
- Enacting the Electric Vehicle Law, which provides incentives for EV buyers and sellers, sets targets for public charging stations, and establishes an EV rebate program
- Launching the Charge Up New Jersey Program, which offers up to $5,000 in rebates for EV purchases or leases
- Creating the New Jersey Partnership to Plug-In, which is a cross-agency collaboration to promote and support EV adoption
The Reaction and Outlook
The announcement of the gas car sales ban has received mixed reactions from various stakeholders, such as environmental groups, automakers, dealers, and consumers. Some have praised the move as a bold and necessary step to address the climate crisis and protect public health, while others have criticized it as unrealistic, impractical, and costly.
The gas car sales ban is not yet a law, but a regulatory proposal that will undergo a public comment and review process before being finalized. The DEP is expected to complete the rulemaking by the end of 2023, and the ban will take effect gradually from 2027 to 2035. The ban will only apply to new vehicles, not existing ones, and will not prevent people from buying or selling used gas cars.
New Jersey is the sixth state to announce a gas car sales ban, after California, Massachusetts, New York, Oregon, and Washington. The European Union has also proposed to ban the sales of new gas and diesel vehicles by 2035. These bans are expected to accelerate the global shift to EVs, which are projected to account for 50% of new car sales by 2030 and 80% by 2040, according to BloombergNEF.