For the past several years there’s been a lot of talk about expanding the number of electric vehicles in New Jersey but efforts to move forward on this front seem to have stalled.

According to Doug O’Malley, the director of Environment New Jersey and the president of ChargEVC, a coalition working to expand Jersey’s plug-in infrastructure, New Jersey lags behind other states when it comes to electric cars because we don’t have enough public charging stations.

“We have 6 million licensed drivers, close to 3 million registered cars and only 15,000 electric vehicles," he said. "So we have a long way to go.”

O’Malley noted one major reason why we need more electric cars is air pollution.

“A majority of that pollution comes from cars and trucks, and that’s why it’s so critical that we expand the number of electric vehicles in the state," he said. “If we’re going to clean up air pollution and fight global warming we need to go electric.”

He pointed out in order to make this happen, “we need the New Jersey legislature to step up to the plate and to move forward with a clean vehicle task force so that we can come up with a strategy to get more electric vehicle charging stations.”

O’Malley said to build this kind of network will take tens of millions of dollars “but it’s an investment we can’t afford not to make.”

Right now there are only a few hundred public charging stations in New Jersey and most of them are Level 2 stations, which means it takes at least two hours to charge a vehicle. But technology is advancing.

“The chargers that are now available can allow you to plug in and get a full charge within 30 minutes,” he said.

That’s especially important because many electric vehicles can only go about 200 miles before they need to be charged.

“We need to get more chargers everywhere but especially more fast chargers on our major highways so it doesn’t feel like you’re stranded if you’re trying to get up and down the Turnpike.”

If you’re looking to find public charging stations near you, there are several apps that have them listed. One popular one is Plugshare.

“This technology is not going away. It’s going to get better, it’s getting faster, it’s getting cheaper, it’s good for the environment," O’Malley said.

He added driving a car that runs on electricity is also fun.

“You might think that electric cars aren’t very fast but you’d be wrong. They have great pick up and high ratings from JD Power & Associates.”

“I’m very optimistic electric cars aren’t just a fad: we’re looking at having millions of electric vehicles on the road in the next two to three decades but we need New Jersey to feed the market and to jump-start where we are right now."

You can contact reporter David Matthau at David.Matthau@townsquaremedia.com