Colorado Adopts California Zero Emission Vehicle Rule

Electric vehicles, like this Nissan LEAF e+, need to make up at least 5% of auto manufacturers' sales in Colorado under a rule approved today. Photo: Nissan USA.
Electric vehicles, like this Nissan LEAF e+, need to make up at least 5% of auto manufacturers' sales in Colorado under a rule approved today. Photo: Nissan USA.

Today Colorado approved a rule that requires automakers to sell more electric vehicles in the state. The mandate intends to bring a wider range of zero-emission electric models to car dealers, reduce carbon emissions and clean up polluted air.

“The adoption of the zero-emission vehicle standard is a clear demonstration of our unrelenting commitment to making sure every Coloradan has clean air to breathe,” said Jill Hunsaker Ryan of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment in a statement.

The department oversees the Air Quality Control Commission, which approved the rule in an 8-1 decision this morning. Last week, the EPA downgraded much of the Front Range from a “moderate” to a “serious” violator of ozone pollution limits. Cleaning up increasingly polluted air is critical for the state to continue receiving federal transportation funds. In a March 29 statement Gov. Jared Polis said:

“Last year alone, there were 55 days when Coloradans were warned that exercising outdoors could be damaging to their health due to high ground-level ozone. That’s more than half the summer, which is unacceptable.”

The rule will also give Coloradans more choices when they shop for cars. Last year, Kelly Blue Book reported that only 12 models of electric vehicles were available for sale in Colorado, compared to 48 in California, according to reporting in the Colorado Sun.

Automakers supported the rule, which is similar to those in California and nine other states, because it offers a credit for vehicles sold before 2023, according to the Denver Post. In that year, the rule will start ratcheting up the number of zero emissions vehicles automakers are required to sell.


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  • mckillio

    I’m not a fan of the sales mandate but I also doubt that it will be difficult to meet.

    For all of our ozone problems, I have yet to see anyone mention requiring the sale of lower RVP gas or Reformulated Gasoline here which would certainly help some. Plenty of other states do it.

  • TakeFive

    This was spearheaded by Gov Polis and his Boulder buddy Will Toor (who’s a good guy).

    Normally you achieve more success with buyer incentives but Colorado is taking those away (by not renewing them). Given that the industry is gearing up to make and sell EV’s the timing may be good. But without incentives I would expect the going to be slow.

    • Todd Bradley

      But the incentives aren’t going away for another 4 years. And what’s to stop the legislature from passing another law in 2023 extending them?

      • TakeFive

        Ah, thanks for the clarification; I wasn’t aware when it expired. To answer your question only the legislature could stop itself from renewing the incentive. So I’m saying there’s a chance. 🙂

  • TakeFive

    When it comes to the climate & pollution I’m more interested in Exon-Mobile’s partnership with NREL. https://www.bizjournals.com/denver/news/2019/08/14/exxonmobil-nrel-partnership.html?iana=hpmvp_den_news_headline

    ExxonMobil Corp. struck a $100 million research partnership with the Golden-based National Renewable Energy Lab this spring…

    Billions of people are moving out of poverty into a lifestyle that developed nations have enjoyed, and the world is challenged to match a growing population’s rising demand for energy while eliminating the carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions that are driving climate change.

    “What we want is 9 billion people who have a quality of life, while managing CO2. What’s the pathway?” asked Vijay Swarup, vice president of research and development at ExxonMobil Corp.’s research and engineering company.

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