Colorado, automakers reach agreement on zero-emission-vehicle mandate

The deal still needs approval from Colorado's Air Quality Control Commission.

Andrew Krok Reviews Editor / Cars
Cars are Andrew's jam, as is strawberry. After spending years as a regular ol' car fanatic, he started working his way through the echelons of the automotive industry, starting out as social-media director of a small European-focused garage outside of Chicago. From there, he moved to the editorial side, penning several written features in Total 911 Magazine before becoming a full-time auto writer, first for a local Chicago outlet and then for CNET Cars.
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Isn't it nice when everybody gets along?

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In January, Colorado announced that it intended to implement California's zero-emission-vehicle (ZEV) mandate, which would see the state adopting stricter emissions requirements and specific targets for ZEV sales in the hopes of spurring sales of greener vehicles. At least one automaker group attempted to sway the state, but now, it appears all relevant parties have reached a deal.

The Association of Global Automakers and the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, two OEM lobby groups that represent 99% of US light-duty vehicle sales, announced on Tuesday that the groups have reached a deal with Colorado regarding its future ZEV mandate. Earlier discussions between these parties did not produce anything of substance.

The agreement lies in the ramp-up to Colorado's determination to join California's ZEV program for the 2023 model year. Automakers who sell electric vehicles in Colorado in the 2021 and 2022 model years will be given credits that can offset ZEV goals for model years 2023 to 2025. This should provide a benefit for automakers who already sell EVs in the state, and it may spur other OEMs to bring their products to Colorado earlier.

The parties involved also worked to address a regulatory peculiarity that allows automakers to take ZEV credits earned in California and use them in other states to help meet minimums. According to the Colorado Sun, automakers who take advantage of the early credit-banking system will be allowed to apply out-of-state credits to just 23% of its Colorado-specific goals, while OEMs who wait for the mandate to take effect will see that number rise to 36%.

It's worth noting that nothing is set in stone just yet. Before the deal can be finalized, it has to go through Colorado's Air Quality Control Commission, which will hold its hearing on Aug. 13.

California has been allowed to set its own vehicle emissions regulations above and beyond those set by the federal government, due in part to regulations enacted prior to the 1970 Federal Clean Air Act, which were meant to address the state's smog issues. Section 177 of the Clean Air Act allows other states to join in California's green crusade, and Colorado is set to become the 11th state to do precisely that.

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