We Don’t Need California Mandates.

We Need Laws That Make Sense for Coloradans.

What’s At Stake

Following California will have a negative impact on the Colorado economy, potentially raising gas prices and restricting consumer choice, with taxpayers picking up the bill.

What’s In Play​

Governor Hickenlooper has issued an executive order that would require Colorado to adopt California’s burdensome vehicle emission standards program (so-called Cal LEV). Once the governor signs the executive order, the Colorado Air Quality Control Commission will move forward with preparing a new regulation to adopt the standards.

Adoption of Cal LEV could include a mandate to require as much as 15 percent of all vehicles sold in the state be electric cars, often referred to as zero emission vehicles, within the next seven years.

With zero emission vehicle sales accounting for only 1.5 percent of vehicles sold in the state today, such a mandate would set a nearly impossible standard that could have a massive impact on Colorado auto buyers.

Higher Gas Prices

To get the most out of the California car standards Colorado will have to adopt California’s clean gasoline standards , which could significantly raise gas prices across the state. According to AAA, Californians pay the highest gas prices in the country at almost $4 per gallon.

Restricted Vehicle Choice

While high gas prices could force more Coloradans to consider buying smaller more efficient cars or electric cars, it would be at the expense of consumer choice. And it would hit especially hard at Coloradans who depend on trucks and SUVs.

Currently more than 70 percent of all vehicles sold in Colorado are SUVs, light trucks or crossovers. If Colorado is to meet the California standard, state consumers will have to buy more than 106,000 zero emission vehicles, a ten-fold increase over today’s sales.

State Funded Rebates

Even with high gas prices, the state will have to spend millions of dollars incentivizing the sales of electric cars to hit this target. Over the last several years, California spent $502 million on electric and hydrogen car rebates and is proposing spending $1.6 billion over the next seven years.

Colorado’s current tax credit is already a generous $5,000 per zero emission vehicle. However, consumer demand is still nowhere near the level needed to meet the mandate and long-term incentives will be required.

Infrastructure Investment

On top of the consumer incentives, Colorado must invest much more in electric and hydrogen refueling infrastructure. In California, the Governor has proposed an additional $900 million for electric and hydrogen cars on top of the $220 million the state has already spent on electric and hydrogen refueling and planning.

Now Is Not the Right Time

The good news is Colorado is already one of the leading states in the nation of retail sales of zero emission vehicles, without adopting California standards and without government mandates. Colorado zero emission vehicles sales outpace seven states that HAVE adopted the California standards. In fact, only five states have higher sales than Colorado, and only two of those states have adopted California’s mandate for zero emission vehicles.

Consumer demand is trending up. The Washington Post called Colorado “the best place in the country to buy an electric vehicle” thanks to the generous government incentives and aggressive vehicle pricing by automakers.

Automakers offer over 30 different models of zero emission vehicles in Colorado, including cars of every size, minivans, SUVs, economy and luxury models. There is a model for every buyer, and automakers are expected to double the available models over the next few years.

The challenge is not a lack of vehicles or a lack of regulations. Colorado needs more customers to purchase zero emission vehicles. Even the Governor is not buying these vehicles for the state fleet. Of the 3,098 new vehicles purchased by the state last year, only 42 were zero emission vehicles. That’s only 1.3 percent of the state fleet.  If the state itself won’t buy zero emission vehicles, why should they force consumers to buy them?

There is a better way. THE COLORADO WAY.​

Why should Colorado let politicians in Sacramento dictate our future? In Colorado, we respond better to a carrot than a stick. There are alternatives to policy mandates that better fit the needs of Coloradans.

Rather than imposing an unrealistic mandate, our government should explore creative programs and enhanced incentives to increase demand in zero emission vehicles.  In addition to the current generous state tax credit already in place in Colorado, policymakers could take the following steps:

  • Converting the tax credit into a point of sale rebate
  • Extending this rebate through 2025
  • Non-monetary incentives for the purchase and use of zero emission vehicles:
  • Relaxed tolls, parking fees and meters
  • HOV lane access
  • Specially designated parking, etc.
  • Point of sale tax exemption
  • Tax credits for installation of EV charging equipment
  • Reduced vehicle registration costs for electric vehicles
  • Favorable electricity rate structures for at home charging, and utility rebates for home charging equipment

These approaches make sense for both consumers, automakers and dealers.

And for Colorado taxpayers.

Automakers support ongoing, year-over-year improvements in fuel economy and climate change emissions that recognize marketplace realities.  Zero emission vehicles are part of the solution, and automakers have invested substantially in plug-in electric and hydrogen-powered vehicles and want to sell them in large numbers. But more state mandates like California are not the answer.

What Can


About This?

Governor Hickenlooper’s  executive order directs the Air Quality Control Commission to adopt the California Low Emission Vehicle standards for Colorado. The AQCC is now in the process of developing a rule to impose California’s burdensome requirements on Colorado.