In Brief

New Jersey to ban sales of gas-powered cars by 2035, despite industry objections

By: - November 21, 2023 5:57 pm

New Jersey officials announced Tuesday, Nov. 21, 2023, the state would adopt a rule requiring all new cars bought by 2035 to be electric vehicles. (Photo by New Jersey Monitor)

New Jersey officials announced Tuesday they will adopt a rule requiring all new cars sold in New Jersey by 2035 to be electric, a move the Murphy administration hailed as key in combatting climate change but industry groups warned would spike costs for car buyers.

Under the state Department of Environmental Protection’s “Advanced Clean Cars II” rule, manufacturers must ensure that 43% of new light-duty vehicles they make in 2027 are electric, with the percentage rising annually to 100% by 2035. Most consumer cars and pickup trucks are considered light-duty.

The rule, which also sets more stringent exhaust emission standards for gas- and diesel-fueled vehicles, mirrors regulations enacted in California and several other states. It will be published in the Dec. 18 edition of the New Jersey Register.

Vehicle emissions are the single largest source of climate pollution in New Jersey, accounting for 37% of emissions, according to the Murphy administration. About 123,000 drivers in New Jersey have electric vehicles, which account for 12% of new vehicle sales, the state said.

“The steps we take today to lower emissions will improve air quality and mitigate climate impacts for generations to come, all while increasing access to cleaner car choices,” Gov. Phil Murphy said in a statement.

The state’s announcement included multiple endorsements from environmentalists and mayors.

“This is a huge win not only for the environment, but for public health and the communities who suffer every day from the pollution from congested roadways,” said Anjuli Ramos-Busot, director of the New Jersey Sierra Club.

But fossil fuel groups, retailers, and some lawmakers blasted the move.

New Jersey Coalition of Automotive Retailers President Jim Appleton called it “an extreme government mandate” and urged state legislators to intervene.

“NJ CAR is calling on the Legislature to exercise its crucial role in oversight of state agency rulemaking and to engage all stakeholders in reviewing whether this extreme California rule is appropriate for the citizens of New Jersey,” Appleton said in a statement.

Ray Cantor of the New Jersey Business & Industry Association said banning new gas-powered cars by 2035 “flies in the face of calls to make New Jersey more affordable.”

“We can and should all work to reduce carbon emissions,” Cantor said in a statement. “This ban of the sale of new gas-powered cars, however, in such an expedited time does not take costs or feasibility into account. It does not take the lack of local and highway infrastructure into account. It does not take grid capacity into account. It ignores consumer choice. It doesn’t take New Jersey residents into account, especially low- and moderate-income families.”

State Sen. Michael Testa Jr. (R-Cumberland) warned the mandate would hurt rural areas, which lag behind more urban areas in building the charging infrastructure electric vehicles need.

“Forcing this foolish transition to all-electric vehicles could not only lead to job losses and economic instability, but it also jeopardizes the job security of mechanics and auto shops, local gas stations, and the used car market,” Testa said in a statement.


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Dana DiFilippo
Dana DiFilippo

Dana DiFilippo comes to the New Jersey Monitor from WHYY, Philadelphia’s NPR station, and the Philadelphia Daily News, a paper known for exposing corruption and holding public officials accountable. Prior to that, she worked at newspapers in Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, and suburban Philadelphia and has freelanced for various local and national magazines, newspapers and websites. She lives in Central Jersey with her husband, a photojournalist, and their two children.