Telsa parked outside the state Capitol building Credit: Hugh McQuaid / CTNewsJunkie

In an effort to align with a coalition of states accelerating the shift towards electric vehicles, Gov. Ned Lamont revealed plans on Wednesday to halt the sale of gas-powered vehicles by 2035.

The announcement follows in the footsteps of California, which last year laid out an ambitious timeline for automakers to transition from traditional internal-combustion engines to cleaner alternatives such as electric and hydrogen-powered vehicles. Connecticut has historically aligned with the emission standards set by California’s Air Resources Board (CARB), rather than adhering to the less strict federal regulations.

Lamont’s decision also builds upon previous environmental legislation he endorsed last year, applying similar emission standards to medium and heavy-duty trucks. Alongside CARB, Connecticut’s officials are collaborating with other states, including New York, New Jersey, and Massachusetts, to stimulate an expansive market for electric vehicles.

Rejecting a wait-and-see approach, Lamont declared: “We can’t do it by ourselves but we can take the lead.” The governor made this announcement at an EV-recognized Toyota dealership.

Under the new regulations, from the 2027 model year, dealerships will have to offer a certain proportion of zero or low-emission vehicles, including cars, SUVs, and light trucks. This percentage will gradually rise until 2035, at which point all new sales must consist exclusively of fully electric, hydrogen, or ultra-clean plug-in hybrid-electric vehicles.

Alongside this, a distinct set of rules will initiate the introduction of more electric models into larger vehicle categories like trucks, buses, and RVs, starting from 2027. Notably, neither regulation will restrict the sale of pre-owned, gas-powered vehicles.

Despite some automakers, like Ford and General Motors, revealing similar electrification plans, detractors of these regulations argue that consumers, dealers, and power grids may struggle to adapt to the rapid pace of this transition. This has led to legal action in some states aiming to hinder the new rules’ implementation.

The 2022 legislation stipulating a 2035 deadline for complete electrification is a directive aimed at automakers, not an outright ban on the sale or purchase of used gas-powered vehicles. The Connecticut regulations, however, harmonize with federal policy and rules currently in place or being considered in about twelve other states, thereby reaffirming the course already charted by vehicle manufacturers.

With the unveiling of these proposed regulations, Connecticut now stands alongside Rhode Island, Maryland, New Jersey, and New Mexico in publicly declaring its intent to adopt these new standards. Meanwhile, Massachusetts, New York, and Vermont have already completed the process of formally adopting these rules.

House Minority Leader Vincent Candelora criticized the strategy, claiming it forced Connecticut “down California’s ideological regulatory rabbit hole” at the cost of the state’s finances and residents’ interests.

However, Connecticut officials reported the state recently exceeded 36,000 EV registrations, a 20% increase since January. Nonetheless, this figure remains a small percentage of the nearly 3 million total vehicles registered in the state.