With gas prices soaring in New Jersey, will EV sales increase as well?

The Jersey Shore took center stage on Super Bowl Sunday when a Chevrolet commercial featured actor Jamie-Lynn Sigler driving an all-electric Silverado and parking at a charging station outside from Bahr’s Landing in the Highlands.

Twitter was in turmoil. Bahr’s was famous. But the ad wasn’t perfect.

The problem: The electric Silverado isn’t expected to hit the market until 2024. And the charging station outside Bahr’s advertised doesn’t exist.

EV advocates hope the recent spike in gas prices will turn the Chevy ad into reality and help New Jersey reach its goal of having 330,000 electric vehicles registered by 2025.

Actors Jamie-Lynn Sigler (Meadow Soprano) and Robert Iler (AJ Soprano) with the Silverado EV on the set of the Chevrolet commercial

To achieve this, the state will have to overcome persistent obstacles. Vehicles remain expensive. Charging stations remain rare. And consumers may worry about running out of power on long journeys.

But advocates say electric vehicles have a chance to pick up the pace by tapping into a new group of customers who are squeezed by gas prices and could give their vehicle a second look, even if they’re not. not environmentalists.

“The fundamental thing right now is that nobody likes paying more money at the pump,” said Doug O’Malley, director of Environment New Jersey and president of ChargEVC, an electric vehicle coalition.

The average price of gasoline in New Jersey hit a record high of $4.32 a gallon on Wednesday, according to AAA, up 64 cents from last week.

This left Philip and Nancy Blackwood in an enviable position. Residents of Red Bank own a Tesla Model Y and simply charge it in their garage overnight as if it were an iPhone running out of power.

Exterior of the new Tesla dealership under construction in Eatontown, NJ on Wednesday, March 9, 2022.

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They are drawn to electric vehicles to try to distance themselves from fossil fuels. The list price is high, they said, but they save money in the long run. They no longer need to take their car for oil changes and other maintenance work. And they don’t pay for gas.

Their reaction to seeing rising prices at gas stations: “Well, we’re walking past it,” said 68-year-old Philip Blackwood.

EVs are chic. A Tesla, for example, comes with a 15-inch touchscreen, a camera that offers a 360-degree view, and the ability to go from zero to 60 mph in just over 3 seconds.

The cost of recharging an electric vehicle depends on the price of electricity and the range of the vehicle.

But if electricity costs 13 cents per kilowatt-hour (prices vary depending on your electric utility), it would cost about $9 to fully charge an electric vehicle with a 200-mile range, according to the U.S. Department of energy. Motorists would likely pay more for charging at a station outside their homes.

By comparison, motorists on Wednesday would have spent $51.84 to fill a 12-gallon vehicle.

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A Tesla charges at an electric vehicle outlet on White Street in Red Bank.

However, electric vehicles are struggling to establish themselves. The auto market has been upended by the pandemic, making comparisons difficult, but in 2019 electric vehicle sales accounted for about 2% of the new car market in the United States, according to Pew Research.

Hold ’em: The average price of an electric vehicle was $56,437 in November 2021, about $10,000 more than gas-powered vehicles, according to Kelley Blue Book, an industry publication.

Meanwhile, there are about four gas stations for every electric charging station in New Jersey, according to state and industry figures, which means EV owners still need to plan their long journeys so as not to run out of electricity.

“What’s really going to push people into this is that they’re going to save money overall,” said Ivan Drury, chief information officer for Edmunds Inc., a research firm. “That’s the easiest argument to make. Once you show people you can have this vehicle, it will drive exactly the same, if not better, and save you money. C That’s when most people will really flip the switch.”

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Exterior of the new Tesla dealership under construction in Eatontown, NJ on Wednesday, March 9, 2022.

In 2019, New Jersey lawmakers passed a bill outlining the state’s electric vehicle goals.

Among them: increasing the number of light-duty electric vehicles registered in New Jersey from 34,696 in 2021, a figure that does not include plug-in hybrids, to 330,000 in 2025 and 2 million in 2035.

That means the state will need to sell 73,826 electric vehicles over the next four years.

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Supporters say they are getting help from the government and the auto industry to make the transition.

For example:

“Anyone who owns an electric vehicle will probably tell you that municipalities don’t have enough charging stations,” said Michael Manzella, transportation manager for Asbury Park.

The city has partnered with Greenspot Smart Mobility to operate four charging stations, and plans to add six more, Manzella said.

The automotive industry itself is investing more in electric vehicles, both with traditional companies and start-ups. Average range increased from 195 miles per charge in 2019 to 257 miles per charge, Kelley Blue Book reported.

Chevrolet’s new Silverado, expected in summer 2024, isn’t the only one.

Ford Motor Co. is also investing $50 billion in electric vehicles under a program that includes electrifying its F-150 pickup truck and building new battery plants in Tennessee and Kentucky, Bob said. Holycross, vice president, during a congressional hearing on Tuesday.

Over the past year, “we’ve probably tripled our EV sales rate, probably even quadrupled,” said Paul DeFelice, owner of Circle Hyundai in Shrewsbury. “There is a lot of charging anxiety among consumers because they fear they will run out (of electricity) and there is no gas station nearby. But as this infrastructure increases and people are also getting longer ranges, a car has a range of 250 to 300 miles, most consumers recognize that they can get home from where they are going on a charge.”

Robert B. Noland, director Alan M. Voorhees Transportation Center at Rutgers University, said New Jersey’s goal of having half of new vehicles sold be electric by 2030 is in line with Europe. and to other states.

Getting there won’t be easy. Rising prices for new and used vehicles could slow New Jersey’s attempt to meet its electric vehicle adoption goal by encouraging residents to keep their aging vehicles longer, he said.

Modern cars have a lifespan of 10-15 years and well over 100,000 miles.

But “gasoline at $5, $6 a gallon is going to be an added incentive because it makes it much cheaper to run (electric vehicles),” Noland said.

Michael L. Diamond is a business journalist who has written about New Jersey’s economy and the health care industry for more than 20 years. He can be contacted at [email protected]

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