Rivian and other EV makers also gained a path forward to sell directly to Colorado consumers, a move backed by Democratic Gov. Jared Polis' administration and environmental groups. But the revised language prevents traditional automakers, such as Ford Motor Co., from doing the same with, for instance, its upcoming Mustang Mach-E crossover.
The way the bill initially was written, "there would have been a lot of pullback of [dealer] investments," association President Tim Jackson said. "This provides some security on that investment."
The Alliance for Automotive Innovation, the newly formed trade group that represents automakers, said it opposed the revised bill because all companies would not be treated equally.
"Any inequitable rules under state franchise law, including the amended Senate bill, will have a discriminatory effect in the market and provide unequal protections for consumers," the alliance said in a statement.
State Sen. Chris Hansen, a Democrat from Denver and a bill co-sponsor, said automakers were not involved in final negotiations over the amended legislation.
The key revision: An automaker could own, operate or control one or more dealerships if it "manufactures only electric vehicles and has no franchised dealers of the same line-make in this state."
The new version now would appear to limit direct sales to automakers that exclusively build EVs, such as Tesla and Rivian.
The dealer association contends that existing state franchise law already allows Rivian to apply for a dealer license, though Rivian has said the law is ambiguous and the bill would provide clarity.
Rivian did not respond to messages seeking comment Friday. The company has said it will build its electric pickups and SUVs based on customers' orders, not churn out vehicles to be stocked on dealership lots.