Sarlo: New car EV mandate by 2035 ‘is not happening’

Influential state senator says goals are too ambitious — and state lacks infrastructure to get there

That new car electric vehicle mandate — the one that said the state would only sell new EVs by 2035? The one that seemed to be divorced from reality of supply and infrastructure? It’s not going to happen.

At least, that’s the way state Sen. Paul Sarlo sees it.

Sarlo (D-Wood-Ridge), the influential Senate deputy majority leader and longtime chair of the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee, told the crowd at the New Jersey Business & Industry Association’s annual Public Policy Forum that such a goal is not realistic or logistically possible.

Sarlo said the recently announced mandate by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, which set a sliding scale that included 51% of all sales by as soon as 2027, flies in the face of reason — no matter how much people want more clean energy.

“I know everybody in this room fully understands the need to invest in green energy and move in that direction — I don’t think anybody here is opposed to that,” he said. “However, to be practical about it, 2035 is not happening.”

Sarlo listed a number of issues, saying auto manufacturers aren’t in position to produce that many EVs, that the state isn’t in position to put in the necessary charging stations and the power grid isn’t in position to handle it if the first two points are somehow met.

Sarlo told the crowd that he feels such a policy would require more federal money. And a lot of it.

“There is a significant amount of federal investment in our infrastructure that needs to go on before we can tell everybody to go out and buy an electric car,” he said.

“I am sure somebody in the DEP thought this was a great idea to get a great headline, but it’s not practical and we know that,” he said. “And I think you all know that.”

Apparently, Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont does.

Lamont pushed for his state to pass the same mandate — known as the Advanced Clean Cars II act — this summer. It’s a plan that copies what has passed in California.

On Monday, the Democrat walked back the proposal — pulling it back before the Legislature could vote on it.

The plan, which is facing a court challenge in California, certainly faces opposition in New Jersey.

The NJBIA’s annual Business Outlook Survey, released Monday, made that clear with some startling numbers.

For one, 91% of businesses that have company cars said their existing fleet is all gas-powered (only 2% were all-EV). Of the 91% with gas-powered fleets, 56% said they plan to make a similar purchase in the future (only 8% said their next purchase would be an EV or hybrid).

Currently, approximately 8% of all cars on the road in New Jersey are EVs.

The numbers show the state isn’t close to meeting the mandate’s percentages.

Sarlo doesn’t expect that to be the case anytime soon.

“We all want to get there,” he said. “But we have a long way to go.”