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Charging buildout challenge for New Jersey ICE ban
New England state trails on chargers per-capita basis behind some that have not legislated
New Jersey has become the latest US state to put a date on outlawing the sale of new ICE vehicles, which will no longer be allowed from 2035, But the state may face an uphill climb to prepare its charging infrastructure for that date, which could lead to friction.
It is the ninth state to enact a ban on future ICE car sales, joining California, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Washington. And its new rules follow the pattern of those of previous states by requiring that car manufacturers incrementally increase the proportion of their sales that are zero-emissions, beginning in 2027 and increasing to 100pc in 2035.
But even the governor’s office acknowledges that the new law will only go as far as the surrounding infrastructure allows it. “The rule will take effect starting in model year 2027, providing time for auto industry transition, continued development of charging infrastructure and a more robust and cleaner electrical grid in New Jersey,” the office says.
Since 2019, the state has funded 2,980 charging stations with 5,271 ports at 680 locations, it claims. However, when compared to live data from the Department of Energy’s Alternative Fuel Data Center (AFDC), these numbers appear to include as-yet uninstalled charging projects which may have received incentive funding through federal and state initiatives but are not yet in place.
According to the AFDC, New Jersey currently has 1,166 public level 2 and DC charging station locations across the state, containing 3,301 EVSE ports. The state also has a further six stations containing 35 EVSE ports planned or under construction. This amounts to one charging port for every 2,800 people in the state.
This is roughly on par with Michigan, the most similarly sized US state to New Jersey in terms of population, which has 1,338 stations and 3,039 ports.
Considering, however, that Michigan is not amongst the nine states to announce a ban of ICE vehicle sales, it will become an increasingly urgent issue for New Jersey to install charging infrastructure far beyond these per-capita levels.
Washington State, for example, which has also introduced a ban on ICE sales by 2035, has a population only 84pc the size of New Jersey but has 2,226 station locations and 5,674 ports currently installed.
And the situation for installing infrastructure is not straightforward, with several charging companies recently indicating that current federal incentive schemes may be backfiring. With wage requirements higher for grant-funded projects and a higher price paid by charging companies for ‘build American buy American’ charging hardware, the business case for applying for Nevi projects is often diminished, according to Catherine Zoi, CEO of charging firm EVgo.
The governor’s office predicts, though, that the new legislation will be the catalyst for a spike in private investment in infrastructure, owing to greater clarity around the rate of EV adoption.
“The rule will provide certainty to vehicle manufacturers, suppliers, utilities, and charging infrastructure companies to make the long-term investments that will be crucial to large-scale deployment of light-duty ZEVs and consumer choice,” it says.
But while investment in charging threatens to create a drag on acceptance of mandates towards EV penetration, some experts are still optimistic about the state’s trajectory.
“New Jersey was one of the first states to adopt clean cars standards 20 years ago and today’s decision for New Jersey to join the bevy of other states to adopt the latest clean cars standards will put 40pc of the nation’s auto market on an accelerated EV adoption pathway,” says Doug O’Malley, director of advocacy group Environment New Jersey.
“Thanks to the adoption of this rule, starting with model year ‘27, New Jersey will have access to more EVs, which will result in roughly 90,000 more EVs on the road by the end of this decade than if New Jersey delayed adoption,” O’Malley continues.