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Majority of N.J. residents not on board with state electric vehicle mandate, poll shows

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Majority of N.J. residents not on board with state electric vehicle mandate, poll shows

Feb 19, 2024 | 4:07 pm ET
By Dana DiFilippo
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Majority of N.J. residents not on board with state electric vehicle mandate, poll shows
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A new Rutgers-Eagleton poll shows majorities of New Jersey residents with concerns about the state's new electric vehicle mandate, which requires all new cars sold by 2035 to be electric. (Photo by New Jersey Monitor)

A new poll shows more than half of New Jersey residents say they probably won’t buy an electric car, despite a new Murphy administration rule requiring all new cars sold by 2035 to be electric.

A majority of 1,657 adults surveyed in December agreed the state’s phase-out of gas-powered cars would positively impact the state’s air quality and residents’ health, but half don’t support the policy because they’re concerned about how it will affect their personal finances and the state’s economy, according to Rutgers-Eagleton poll results released Monday.

Ashley Koning, director of Rutgers University’s Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling, said the opposition comes even though about a dozen other states have adopted the same regulations.

“It is an issue that is heavily influenced not only by partisanship but also by a hesitancy that likely stems from a widespread lack of information about the vehicles themselves and what the policy entails — not to mention the financial implications and the notable change this would cause in people’s everyday lives,” Koning said in a statement.

Support is highest among Democrats and demographic groups that lean left, including Black and multiracial residents, younger adults, urbanites, and more highly educated residents.

Respondents who said they probably wouldn’t buy an electric car blamed associated costs, concerns about how long and how often cars must be charged, and worries about a lack of infrastructure and charging stations.

The poll also shows that the issue is a socioeconomic one, with a person’s likelihood of considering an electric vehicle decreasing as their household income falls.

It also suggests the mandate could shape political campaigns and elections — 45% of respondents said they’d be less likely to vote for political candidates who back the mandate. Majorities of Republicans, white people, and 50- to 64-year-olds said it would negatively affect their vote.

“Electric vehicles may become a tricky issue for candidates in election cycles to come — depending on which side of the aisle the candidate is on and the makeup of their electorate,” Koning said. “Those demographics who are historically more likely to turn out to vote are also the same groups most opposed to a candidate who supports the 2035 policy.”

The poll prompted a round of I-told-you-so reactions from critics who have long fought the mandate.

Jim Appleton, president of the New Jersey Coalition of Automotive Retailers, said the poll proves that officials should “slow their roll and recognize consumer sentiment or risk a consumer backlash that is already being felt.”

“This poll points to the need for the State Legislature to take the wheel from Governor Murphy and steer EV policy back in line with consumer preference,” Appleton said in a statement. “Unrealistic mandates are certain to hinder — not help — electric vehicle adoption and will have serious negative impacts on the state’s economy and the finances of working and middle-class consumers.”

Spokespeople for the Murphy administration didn’t respond to a request for comment.