• New Jersey takes steps to adopt California's Advanced Clean Cars II (ACC II) framework, which sets a goal of 100% EV and PHEV sales for automakers by 2035.
  • New Mexico is moving to adopt Advanced Clean Cars and Advanced Clean Trucks regulations, also following California's lead.
  • PHEVs will still be a part of the landscape even under the more stringent requirements of ACC II, giving automakers a partial reprieve when it comes to meeting these standards.

California's Advanced Clean Cars II (ACC II) framework is on a roll, with more states taking steps to adopt the program's regulations that envision 100% zero-emission sales of cars and light trucks by 2035. The ambitious regulatory plan, featuring interim targets between now and 2035, has been formally adopted by California less than a year ago, but has already been influential outside of the Golden State, as other jurisdictions have moved to follow suit.

New Jersey is now one of those jurisdictions, with Governor Phil Murphy solidifying previously announced plans to file the ACC II proposal with the state's Office of Administrative Law. This step would launch a 60-day public comment period ahead of an anticipated rule adoption by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP).

The state would join others in the region, including New York, Connecticut, Maine, Rhode Island, and others in taking steps to adopt ACC II in recent months, with 2026 being the first major interim date on the road to the 2035 target, requiring that 35% of cars and light trucks sold in the state to be zero-emission by that year, which also encompasses plug-in hybrids.

The regulation places the burden on automakers, rather than dealers or consumers to achieve these levels of ZEV sales.

Each year after 2026 features interim targets for sales volumes, with 2027 prescribing 43% ZEV sales—an admittedly steep increment—followed by a 51% ZEV sales mix by 2028.

ACC II gives an automaker a credit for each EV and a fraction of a credit for a PHEV sold.

"As New Jersey continues experiencing the adverse impacts of climate change, we have the power and obligation to reduce its effects by limiting the emissions of climate pollutants," said Environmental Protection Commissioner Shawn M. LaTourette.

The one major asterisk of ACC II is the inclusion of plug-in hybrids, which must offer an EV-only range of at least 50 miles in order to qualify. But automakers will not be able to rely exclusively on PHEVs to "achieve" the 2035 goal—they will be limited to offering no greater than 20% of PHEVs in the vehicle sales mix.

New Jersey's move to formalize ACC II follows New Mexico's effort to adopt California's Advanced Clean Cars (ACC) and Advanced Clean Trucks (ACT) rules. These rules are qualitatively different from ACC II, effectively setting a lower standard that would have to be met by auto manufacturers.

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Available curbside charging, rare to find anywhere in the US, will have to grow by significant leaps in the coming years.

The main difference between ACC and ACC II is that in the former the percentage of credits an automaker earns from a sale is not directly proportional to ZEV sales on a unit-to-unit basis. Under ACC, an automaker can obtain a different number of credits—with 22% mandated by 2025—based on a vehicle's electric range. But a 22% credit requirement can amount to about a third of that percentage when it comes to the mix of vehicles sold, as each vehicle can generate several credit points.

ACC II, on the other hand, gives an automaker a credit for each EV—a far more direct system—and a fraction of a credit for a PHEV. So the credit tally is far more proportional to actual vehicle sales.

"These new rules will ensure that all New Mexicans have access to a greater number of new zero- and low-emission vehicle models, while hastening the transition away from polluting diesel and gasoline-powered cars and trucks," said Environment Department Cabinet Secretary James Kenney.

ACC effectively ends in 2025, we should point out, so its adoption is perhaps viewed as a step in the direction of ACC II rather than a longer-term commitment.

The New Mexico rule-making effort still has to survive the public comment phase before possible adoption by the state's Environment Department. The state has not exactly been at the forefront of EV adoption, with Kenney noting that even as recently as 2021 the state had a total of 1800 zero-emission vehicles, with the current statistic cited as 0.8% of all vehicles in the state as of this past May. (The 1800 total in 2021 sounds like many ZEV owners in the state probably knew each other). And both numbers place New Mexico in the bottom half of all US states when it comes to EV adoption.

The two different frameworks in the process of being adopted by the two states also highlight the vast differences in geographic population concentration, and looming infrastructure demands to meet both targets.

New Jersey residents may ultimately have an easier time finding public chargers near where they live, even today, but it's still difficult to predict stresses on the grid in such a densely populated state when the majority of cars on the road will all be charging overnight a few years from now. Likewise, New Jersey also has a significant car-owning population that may not have home charging opportunities at all, street-parking their cars in different spots each night.

Is 2035 a realistic goal for phasing out gas- and diesel-engined cars and light trucks in all US states, or should some states avoid adopting the goal? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

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Jay Ramey

Jay Ramey grew up around very strange European cars, and instead of seeking out something reliable and comfortable for his own personal use he has been drawn to the more adventurous side of the dependability spectrum. Despite being followed around by French cars for the past decade, he has somehow been able to avoid Citroën ownership, judging them too commonplace, and is currently looking at cars from the former Czechoslovakia. Jay has been with Autoweek since 2013.