New Jersey will require all new car sales to be electric by 2035

New Jersey will require all new car sales to be electric by 2035, with some requirements starting in 2026 as part of a series of new regulations, an administration official in Gov. Phil Murphy’s office confirmed to NJ Advance Media on Monday.

The rule that would make the mandate possible will be filed by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection on Tuesday, officials in the governor’s office added.

Filing Advanced Clean Cars II ahead of Wednesday’s looming deadline would mean automakers must begin following some requirements for zero-emissions vehicles, starting with light trucks in the 2027 model year — those that will hit the market in 2026.

An official in the governor’s office would not comment further, but more information on how the rule will affect drivers is expected Tuesday.

Still, the rule follows California’s lead — requiring manufacturers that make cars, light trucks and SUVs to load more and more of their fleets with electric options over several years until they reach 100 percent zero-emission vehicles a little later for a decade.

The rule will require 51% of all new car sales to be electric by 2027.

“Our state needs to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution, and after this announcement we are no longer sitting in the slow lane while other states pass us by on clean energy,” said Alex Ambrose, transportation and climate policy analyst for New Political Jersey prospect.

Transportation emissions, Ambrose noted, have been rising since 2020 and account for 35 percent of New Jersey’s greenhouse gas emissions — the most of any sector.

The latest clean energy rule, called ACCII, followed a two-month roller coaster ride for the state and Murphy, a Democrat, after the world’s largest offshore wind developer in late October abruptly changed what would have been the first in New Jersey Ocean Wind Farm.

The ACCII is an administrative rule, not a law, and therefore does not need to be approved by the state legislature. However, a future administration could change course on New Jersey’s commitment to the regulation.

Climate advocates on Monday still cheered ACCII’s passage — saying it would put more than 90,000 more electric vehicles on New Jersey’s roads by 2030.

“One of our biggest sectors is the transportation sector, and one of the biggest sources that contributes a lot of co-pollutants as well as carbon is our light-duty vehicles,” Anjuli Ramos-Busot, director of the New Jersey division of Sierra Club, said Monday.

“Unfortunately, New Jersey’s environmental justice communities are intertwined in very busy roads, especially going into North Jersey and going closer to New York,” Ramos-Buzo added. “Because we are positioned as a transportation hub between two major cities like New York and Philadelphia, this program is literally a lifesaver.”

Model year New EV sales percentage requirement
2026 (omitted) 35%
2027 43%
2028 51%
2029 59%
2030 68%
2031 76%
2032 82%
2033 88%
2034 94%
2035 or later 100%

*Annual breakdown provided by New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection

Critics of the regulations called ACCII premature, while pointing to the significant need for additional electric vehicle chargers in New Jersey and more affordable electric and hybrid cars. Many also argue that the grid will not be able to handle the influx of electric vehicles.

“When our fragile electric grid is already struggling to keep up with demand, it seems like a huge risk to force all of our homes, businesses and cars to be electrified,” Sen. Stephen Orojo, R-Sussex, said earlier this year. “There is no redundancy and there is no safety net.”

Environmentalists countered by arguing that the grid will be able to be strengthened to handle demand over time, EV costs are expected to decrease as the market expands and current price tags are more affordable by having the $7,500 in federal tax credits and another $4,000 in potential rebates from Charge Up New Jersey.

Ramos-Busot noted that in addition to the health benefits, the Garden State will also gain economically by becoming more attractive to electric car manufacturers.

In addition to Tesla announcing that it will expand the availability of its chargers, the NJDEP also previously said it plans to install more chargers.

While ACCII will be a de facto ban on sales of new gas-powered cars, it will not apply to used gas-powered cars and will not be “targeted at ‘cars on the road,'” government officials said.

The rule will also be somewhat flexible.

Automakers will be able to meet 20% of their annual zero-emissions vehicle requirement with credits from plug-in hybrids that meet certain benchmarks.

In addition, companies targeting the state’s annual sales requirements will be able to use partial credits they earn by taking certain steps such as selling plug-in hybrids, zero-emission cars at lower prices or electric vehicles at a discount to programs for local transport.

Passing ACCII this year, Ambrose noted, means reducing passenger car carbon dioxide emissions by 72 percent below 2021 levels by 2035.

“This announcement supports what voters said loud and clear just a few weeks ago: New Jersey will not accept the misinformation of the fossil fuel industry,” Ambrose said Monday afternoon before the filing.

“Our state must reduce greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution, and after this announcement, we are no longer sitting in the slow lane while other states pass us by on clean energy.”

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Stephen Rhodes can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on X at @stevenrodasnj.

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