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Massachusetts to require new cars sold to be electric by 2035

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker released a plan on Wednesday that mandates all new cars sold in the state be electric by 2035, in addition to other measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The governor’s action follows a similar one announced by California Gov. Gavin Newsom in September, which sets the same deadline.

Massachusetts’ commitment is among the most ambitious pledges by states in the U.S. and the rest of the world. It would bring the state on track to reach net zero fossil-fuel emissions by 2050.

“The people of Massachusetts are experiencing record droughts, increased risk of wildfire, severe weather, and flooding in our coastal communities,” Baker said in a news release. “The costly impacts of climate change are on display in the Commonwealth, making it critical that we take action.”

The state also plans to support electric-vehicle charging infrastructure over the next 10 years. Passenger vehicles are now responsible for 27 percent of statewide emissions, according to the report.

“Although several clean options already exist for both light-duty transportation and for home and small business building services, across our in-depth analysis, electrification tends to be the most cost-effective — both individually and systemwide — and the easiest to deploy,” the report issued by the state Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs states. “Implementing electrification in this context implies the widespread deployment of EVs in place of gasoline and diesel engines.”

The report estimates that nearly $295 million in total health benefits will be saved in the transition to EVs, in addition to nearly 4,000 jobs created to support vehicle electrification and charging infrastructure.

By 2025, over 400 battery electric vehicles and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles models are expected to be available globally.

“As BEV production scales up and battery costs continue to decline over the 2020s, upfront purchase costs are expected to reach parity, meaning that BEVs will have a lower total cost of ownership because of their fuel savings ($300 per year in Massachusetts) and lower maintenance costs,” the report says.

The report also focuses on medium- and heavy-duty vehicles, rail and aviation, which are responsible for about 14% of statewide emissions.

“Electric transit buses and some electric trucks – mostly those that service local delivery needs – are already available in modest volume. Improvements in battery technology that lower costs and improve range would expand the vehicle classes that could be electrified.”

The state’s largest public transit system, the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, has found challenges in deploying electric buses due to limited range, vulnerability to weather extremes and generally less reliability. In addition, the majority of its bus garages need to be upgraded or replaced to make the shifts to EVs.

“Despite these challenges, the MBTA, recognizes that battery-electric technology is a crucial component of future bus service, and is working to expand its electric bus fleet by seeking out routes and facilities that are feasible to electrify with the technology and infrastructure that is available today,” the report says.

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