Colorado Effort To Accelerate Access To Electric Vehicles Loses Charge

June 4, 2019
Photo: Electric Car Chevrolet Bolt - AP
The electric vehicle logo shines off the fender of an unsold 2019 Bolt at a Chevrolet dealership in Englewood on May 19, 2019. 

Automakers hoped they could convince Colorado officials not to adopt zero-emission vehicle standards by volunteering to make more electric-vehicle models available quickly.

State officials said Tuesday, that those negotiations have come to a halt after a month.

“It wasn’t so much points of contention as that it is very technically challenging to build a whole different mechanism for a framework in lieu of a regulatory framework,” said Shoshana Lew, executive director of the Colorado Department of Transportation. “It just became hard to iron out all those details and the place where we landed was to work within the confines of the regulatory process.”  

The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, a trade group representing General Motors Co, Toyota Motor Corp, Volkswagen AG and others, opposes regulations that would come with Colorado adopting California’s zero-emission vehicle standard.

They met with Gov. Jared Polis last month in a bid to convince him that voluntary efforts to boost electric vehicles make more sense. This offer included making all of their electric vehicle models available in Colorado starting next year.

In a statement, the auto group applauded the state’s attempts to work toward finding a zero-emission vehicle program that will work for the people of Colorado and said it planned to continue to work with the state.

“Unfortunately, while these discussions were encouraging, there were many complex details that we were unable to resolve. We remain committed to zero-emission vehicles and to working with the Polis administration to accelerate the electric vehicle market in Colorado.”

Automakers are rewarded with credits based on how many electric vehicles they offer to states, and Lew said one of the unresovled areas of discussion was whether automakers would earn such credits for providing vehicles before the mandate takes effect in 2022.

“Because of these discussions we’re having, we think there is a very good chance that we’ll be able to reach an agreement within that rule that provides them with some sort of advanced credit if they bring the vehicles as soon as next year,” Lew said.

Other state officials who took part in the four-week discussion included Will Toor, head of the Colorado Energy Office, and Jill Hunsacker Ryan, executive director of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

In a joint statement they said that, “we are optimistic that ongoing dialog with automakers through the rulemaking process will make more electric vehicle models available to Coloradans as soon as next year.”

Meanwhile, the Polis administration plans to finalize requirements that will take effect starting in the 2022 model year. If the state adopts California’s standard, auto manufacturers would be required to make electric vehicles account for nearly 5 percent of their vehicles for sale in Colorado by 2023 and 8 percent by 2025.