Massachusetts Mandates Transition to 100% Electric Vehicle Sales by 2035
Alex "Solar Girl" Steele
Following examples set by other energy-efficiency leaders such as California and New Jersey, Massachusetts announced recently that it would be halting the sale of gas-powered vehicles in the Commonwealth by 2035. This is part of the state’s mission to reach 100% carbon neutrality by 2050. In a report published December 2020, titled Massachusetts 2050 Decarbonization Roadmap, the Bay State declares it’s plans to neutralize net carbon emissions by the next half-century. The decision will greatly augment the electric vehicle industry, which has seen slow growth since its inception due to the dominance of fossil-fuel powered vehicles. Massachusetts expects this latest investment in our fleet to further boost the popularity of EV’s, which just surpassed manual transmission sales in 2018. Despite their relatively slow-growing demand, electric cars are needed - transportation produces about 40% of the state’s carbon emissions; 27% of that coming from passenger vehicles. By making gradual changes to the auto sales industry, Massachusetts roads will slowly become inhabited with new, more efficient vehicles!
If you live in Massachusetts, you’re probably having a hard time imagining what a net-zero vehicle fleet would look like here. After all, EV charging stations are pretty sparse right now, and most of us only see the occasional Tesla or Leaf cruise by. To start this process, the report lays out an agenda that guides the state towards a fossil fuel phase-out. It will only impact new sale vehicles, so you’ll still see gas-powered cars on the road, but if you go to a dealership you’ll only be shopping for new cars. The first goal is to replace a 30% share of the state’s bus and truck sales with ZEV’s by 2030, then tackle passenger vehicles. The Decarbonization Roadmap notes that over 400 new electric vehicles will be available by 2025, and that prices for them will drop considerably by then, so we can expect a lot of interesting new cars released in the next few years.
A wide variety of EV’s to choose from sounds exciting, but what good is an EV without a charger? There are only 957 public charging stations in the Bay State, with about 3,000 total outlets… Nowhere near enough to power the entire state! Public charging stations aren’t commonplace in Massachusetts yet, but that will change soon. To reckon with the lack of infrastructure, the Commonwealth also intends to beef up the availability of public EV chargers, to make resources accessible for folks who live in apartments, or homes without a garage. Supporting public EV charging infrastructure makes sense for Massachusetts, because it perfectly complements the existing federal tax credit on chargers - up to $1000 for residential chargers and $30,000 for commercial! More charging stations will improve demand for gas-free cars, guiding citizens towards a cleaner driving experience.
Availability of chargers is crucial, but financial incentives are also being emphasised to ensure we reach our goals. Jordan Stutt, the carbon programs director at the clean-power focused nonprofit Acadia Center in Boston, weighed in on the need for immediate rebates for consumers at the time of purchase. “...Advocates have called on the administration to make rebates available at the point of sale, which is helpful for everybody, but particularly for low-income purchasers who can’t afford to wait months for a check in the mail,” he explained. In order to support consumer purchasing power in the EV market, Stutt encouraged additional funding for the MOR-EV program, which offered drivers up to $1,500 for electric vehicle purchases under $50,000. The program helped thousands of people, but the funds were used up in 2019, so securing future funding for the program will be necessary.
Solar Wolf plans to track the development of the Commonwealth’s Decarbonization Roadmap as it’s rolled out, and stay on top of the most important updates for citizens. We’ll also be sharing updates on the state’s green vehicle rebate program as the year progresses. As advocates for sustainable power in its many forms, we want to do our part to help forge the path towards a gas-free Mass. We offer residential and commercial EV charger installation service, so if you’re in the market for an electric car, remember our name. You can leverage federal tax credits to save on a charger, and while you don’t need to be an existing solar customer to use us for your charger install, we’d also be happy to help you get thousands back on a solar system while you’re at it!
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