Colorado’s Air Quality Control Commission (AQCC) voted 8-1 to approve the state’s adoption of the zero-emissions vehicle mandate. Colorado became the 10th state to join California’s ZEV program.
According to the state’s Air Pollution Control Division (yes, this is a separate agency from the AQCC), automakers will be required to make ZEVs 4.9% of the cars sold in Colorado in 2023, and this figure will increase to 6.1% by 2030.
Governor Jared Polis pushed for the adoption of the ZEV mandate mainly to address the state’s dismal air quality. The Denver metro area is the 12th most polluted city in the nation, according to the American Lung Association, and has been out of compliance with federal air-quality standards since 2008.
Commissioner Tom Gonzales, the lone anti-adoption vote on the AQCC, said he knows something must be done about air pollution, but he’s concerned that the ZEV policy doesn’t address the impact on auto dealerships. “They get these cars, they hopefully will sell and that’s great. But what if they don’t? That’s where I get concerned…Is this enforceable?”
The Colorado Automobile Dealers Association opposed the measure, citing the issue of consumer choice. Almost 80 percent of vehicles sold in the state this year have been pickups and SUVs. “EVs haven’t made inroads in this category, so options aren’t there for consumers,” said Executive Director Tim Jackson.
Governor Polis addressed the issue of limited EV choices: “In one of my first executive orders as governor, I asked for the Department of Public Health and Environment to increase the choices Coloradans have when it comes to purchasing electric cars by increasing the number of models available in our state, and we got it done within a few short months. It’s only the beginning. Colorado must continue to reduce smog and increase consumer choice.”
In July, major automakers made a deal with the state to allow them to earn credits for EVs sold before the regulation comes into full force in 2023. They can also use a limited number of credits earned in other states. The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers and the Association of Global Automakers hailed the compromise, saying, “We are extremely appreciative that the Polis administration worked with automakers and other stakeholders to find an innovative alternative regulatory proposal that will implement the ZEV program in Colorado.”
“There’s value to compromise and bringing the automakers on board,” said Garry Kaufman, Director of the Air Pollution Control Division. “A lot of the challenges now are how to go to the next step and those are really going to require the automakers’ active participation.”