ASBURY PARK – New Jersey’s incentive program to help residents afford electric vehicles is back in effect, providing larger ‘cash-on-the-hood’ subsidies than last year but not quite as much as when it debuted in 2020.

The incentives can reach $4,000 for electric vehicles priced up to $45,000 and $2,000 for ones costing $45,000 to $55,000.

“We know this incentive could push more buyers to making the decision to go electric. In each of its first two years, this program was maxed out,” Gov. Phil Murphy said.

“We expect more of the same this year, and with a refocusing of this incentive for mid-priced vehicles specifically we believe we can expand the appeal of an electric vehicle to more consumers.”

More than 13,000 new electric vehicles were subsidized by the first two rounds of the Charge Up New Jersey program, out of the roughly 65,000 EVs in New Jersey.

In its first year, the program reimbursed buyers up to $5,000 for vehicles priced up to $55,000. Last year, that was changed to up to $2,500 for EVs costing up to $45,000 and $1,000 for EVs costing between $45,000 and $55,000.

The program as originally designed covered eligible plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, but those will be dropped from the incentives starting Jan. 1, 2023.

In addition to around $35 million for incentives reducing the cost of an electric vehicle, the state is also budgeting $25 million more from its Clean Energy Fund on EVs in the coming year, including $250 off the price of a home EV charger.

Joe Fiordaliso, president of the Board of Public Utilities, said New Jersey is “on the right path” in its responses to climate change.

“Why are electric vehicles so important?” Fiordaliso said. “Because 40% of our carbon emissions comes from transportation. So, that has to be one of the focal points.”

The state is also creating grant programs to support chargers in condominium and apartment complexes, distressed areas, tourist spots and local government vehicle fleets.

Assemblyman Dan Benson, D-Mercer, said if the state is to have a 100% clean energy future, it has to tackle transportation.

“This is an all-of-government effort to do what we need to do, not only for those future generations but for us now,” Benson said. “We’re feeling the impacts of climate change now, so we can’t wait any longer.”

Monday’s news conference was originally going to be held outdoors in Asbury Park but was moved indoors to avoid the end of the heat wave.

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Zoe Baldwin, New Jersey director for the Regional Plan Association, said problems such as climate change “seem so big and so bad it can be hard to see how one person can possibly make a difference.”

“But when it comes down to it, all big things are just clusters of individual actions. Change is often just an accumulation of more people empowered to make better choices more often,” Baldwin said. “… It is clear that one of the most powerful choices any of us can make is to reduce our carbon footprint.”

Michael Symons is the Statehouse bureau chief for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at michael.symons@townsquaremedia.com

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