- By 2023, carmakers' sales lineups in Colorado will have to be 5 percent EVs.
- The new rule is part of a strong environmental push by the state and includes joining California and nine other states in the zero-emission-vehicle (ZEV) mandate.
- Currently, 2.6 percent of vehicles on Colorado roads are EVs, which puts it in the top tier of states for electric-car adoption.
Following California's lead on the electric highway, Colorado has become the 11th state to adopt the Golden State's zero-emission-vehicle (ZEV) mandate. That means that automakers will now have to offer more electric vehicles for sale in the Centennial State.
The new rule, passed by Colorado's air-quality commission on August 23 by an 8–1 vote, states that EVs must make up at least 5 percent of automakers' product lineups in the state by 2023, rising to more than 6 percent by 2025. As in California, there is some flexibility for automakers here, since they can bank credits for the EVs they sell now, before the mandate goes into effect, as well as buy credits from other automakers that exceed the targets. The amount of credits an electric vehicle gets depends on the vehicle's zero-emission range.
Colorado already had one of the highest rates of adoption for electric vehicles—it reached 2.6 percent last year, twice the national average. Under the new Colorado rules, automakers can include both plug-in hybrids and fully electric vehicles in the 5 percent of vehicles that must be EVs. Shoppers, of course, don't have to buy them.
The state's recently elected governor, Jared Polis, has made environmental protection a centerpiece of his administration. This week's announcement was jump-started when he signed an executive order in January to mandate a move toward zero-emission vehicles in Colorado. As the Denver Post reported, he "rolled up in a blue electric vehicle" (it was a Nissan Leaf) to the signing ceremony. The order called for a team within state government to work on EV infrastructure. It also said the $68 million Colorado was awarded as part of the Volkswagen Dieselgate settlement will go toward making the state's own fleet electric, including switching to battery-electric transit buses.
The new mandate should also be seen as Colorado's effort to support the California Air Resources Board (CARB) in its ongoing battle against the federal government under President Trump, which is seeking to roll back fuel-economy and emissions regulations. As the Colorado Air Pollution Control Division's director, Garry Kaufman, pointed out this week, "It's a modest proposal in the face of a critical threat. Where the federal government refuses to act, states must lead."
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