Pub. 19 2020-21 Issue 2


President’s Message: New Jersey’s Franchised Dealers Positioned to Lead the Electric Vehicle Revolution

Governor Phil Murphy signed legislation (A4819/S2252) back in January, aimed at boosting the electric vehicle (EV) market in New Jersey. The bill provided $300 million in electric vehicle incentives for consumers over the next decade, as well as investment in an expanded charging infrastructure.

There are more than 40 full electric and plug-in hybrid models currently available from the manufacturers represented by the neighborhood new car dealer-members of NJ CAR. According to industry news reports, these automakers will introduce another 60 EVs through 2022, giving consumers even more attractive models to choose from. This puts franchised dealers in the best position to lead the EV revolution that will be driven by government mandates and the growing investment by auto makers in EV product and battery electric technology.

First, let me tackle the mandates. New Jersey has been part of the California Low Emissions Vehicle (CaLEV) program for 15 years and faces aggressive mandates to sell an ever-increasing percentage of low and zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs). Last year, the mandate required 7% of all vehicles sold to be fully electric or plug-in hybrids, but they accounted for just 2-3% of the market. The mandates increase to 9.5% this year and continue climbing 2.5% every year until they hit 22% in 2025. That’s a lot of EVs, and dealers want to sell each and every one of them. While consumer demand is increasing as more models are introduced and battery range increases, the current demand is far below what the mandates dictate.

I’ve often said, the government can force manufacturers to produce EVs, and manufacturers can dump them on dealership lots, but they aren’t doing the environment any good if they collect dust and aren’t put into operation. So how do you get more consumers to purchase EVs? The two biggest keys are incentives and education.

Earlier this year, the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (NJBPU) launched the Charge Up New Jersey Program. This program provides consumers who purchase or lease eligible plug-in EVs after January 17, 2020, with an incentive of up to $5,000. Combined with the New Jersey Sales Tax exemption, federal tax credit (up to $7,500) and other potential manufacturer and/or dealer incentives, consumers can save upwards of $15,000 on an EV. That savings make plug-in EVs a very attractive option for many consumers.

Education is also critical — both for dealership staff and their valued customers. Dealerships that sell EVs not only need to learn about their product; they need to be able to effectively communicate available incentives and details regarding vehicle charging to overcome consumers two biggest obstacles to greater EV adoption — price and range anxiety.

NJ CAR has partnered with Plug In America to offer dealers the PlugStar Electric Vehicle Training Program, which bolsters factory and brand-specific EV training. The PlugStar program provides critical training that covers best practices for selling EVs and meeting the unique needs of an EV consumer. Some of the topics covered include: fundamentals of EVs as a product category, getting familiar with EV charging, publicly available EV incentives and more.

Participating dealers also get access to the PlugStar online tool, up-to-date EV incentive information, local ride and drive events, answers to customers’ most frequently asked questions, a mobile-friendly web app, collateral and helpline support. Dealers who complete the training are also featured on as a PlugStar Certified Dealer and gain access to customer leads from program partners.

I know EV inventory is hard to come by right now, but your lots and showrooms will see an increase in EVs, whether it’s a month, six months or 12 months from now. I encourage you to email for more information and sign up for the PlugStar program.

Be proactive and prepare yourself NOW so New Jersey’s franchised dealerships are ready to lead the anticipated growth in the Garden State’s EV market in 2021 and beyond.

James B. Appleton, President

This story appears in Issue 2 2020-21 of the New Jersey Auto Retailer Magazine.