The California Advanced Clean Car II (ACCII) Rule, proposed today by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), would allow only electric vehicles (EVs) to be available for sale in New Jersey by 2035. New Jersey’s neighborhood new car and truck dealers oppose this extreme government mandate because it will limit consumer choice and threatens to make new cars unaffordable for working and middle-class families in New Jersey.
ACCII calls for an increase in EV sales from 9%– where it stands today– to 35% in 2026 and then ramp up further to 100% by 2035. The goal of 100% sales by 2035 is laudable, but not realistic, since New Jersey consumers have already demonstrated EV demand can’t keep pace with the more modest government mandates already imposed under the current California Clean Car rules. Policymakers should be focused on getting New Jersey EV sales to 10% or 20% before pushing ever higher mandates that will add to the inflationary pressure on New Jersey’s working and middle-class families.
Let’s be clear: New Jersey’s neighborhood new car and truck dealerships are “all in” on EVs. Indeed, the 500+ rooftops that make up this critical $40 billion industry already offer 40+ vehicles with a plug and that number will soon grow to 140 models in every vehicle category and at every price point. The industry agrees that the automobile market must move aggressively to transition from internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles to electric vehicles- but disagrees with the Murphy Administration’s goal to blindly impose California’s plan on New Jersey’s consumers.
The auto industry is already investing heavily in the transition to EVs and is not suggesting New Jersey do NOTHING to address the challenge of climate change. But the Murphy Administration shouldn’t ignore other available clean car options that give consumers more choice and would have a lesser impact on vehicle affordability.
The DEP has acknowledged that it never even considered such options, like the more stringent federal clean car rules recently proposed by the Biden Administration. If New Jersey opted to follow the federal EPA proposal, rather than California’s ACCII, automakers would be forced to build and deliver more EVs for sale in New Jersey, but consumers would be afforded greater choice and there would be less of an impact on vehicle affordability. Indeed, in the proposal published today, the DEP stated a comparison between the California and federal clean car plans “is difficult” but conceded that ACCII “will increase costs to manufacturers” and that “it is likely that some or all of the increased costs to manufacturers will be passed on to consumers in the form of higher prices.”
The Governor’s plan to sell only EVs will not mean New Jersey becomes electric overnight. In fact, this heavy-handed government approach is likely to backfire. As a result of the ACCII mandates, consumers will buy fewer new cars and hold on to their current ICE vehicles longer. If consumers cannot afford an EV or it doesn’t meet their family needs, they simply won’t buy an EV here or they will drive out-of-state to buy the vehicle that does meet their budget or their needs.
New Jersey’s neighborhood new car dealers want to sell what consumers want to buy. Consumers continue to be curious about EVs, but many still have serious concerns about affordability and access to public charging. Mandating 100% EVs before New Jersey’s EV infrastructure has matured is a classic case of putting the cart before the horse.
In the end, consumers will decide when New Jersey becomes a 100% EV market, NOT government decision-makers or a Governor who won’t even be in office when these mandates kick in and won’t have to deal with the economic and consumer impacts of ACCII. Adopting this California policy, when more flexible options are available, is ill-advised.