In his first executive order since taking office this month, Colorado Gov. Jared Polis on Thursday directed state agencies to develop policies encouraging the adoption of electric vehicles in the state, including a Zero Emission Vehicle program adopted by California.
Polis tasked the state's Department of Public Health and Environment to propose a ZEV rule to the Air Quality Control Commission by May. Colorado would join 10 other states that require automakers to hit sales targets for non-polluting vehicles.
State officials plan to use the remaining $68 million received from Volkswagen's diesel emissions penalty fund to build a vehicle charging infrastructure and expand use of emissions-free buses and trucks.
The order also calls for the creation of an interagency work group to develop, coordinate and implement strategies that support widespread transportation electrification across the state.
The Colorado Automobile Dealers Association criticized the EV mandate, saying residents have plenty of choices for clean vehicles.
"Three-quarters of Coloradans choose vehicles from the light truck category, which includes pickups and SUVs, to meet Colorado's challenging driving conditions. There is a reason you don't see electric vehicles pulling horse trailers or hauling six kids to their events," CADA President Tim Jackson said in a statement. "Colorado's consumers do not need the government telling them what vehicles they should buy. Let's keep car-buying decisions in the hands of our citizens, not unelected California bureaucrats."
Environmental groups argue that automakers tend not to offer many EVs in states with ZEV programs.
Polis was joined at the announcement by Republican state senator Kevin Priola, as well as business and utility leaders. Several automakers plan to offer electric SUVs, crossovers and pickup models within two or three years.
California, using authority under federal law to set its own emissions standards and reduce harmful pollution levels, was first to require the sale of electric or hydrogen fuel cars, with the exact number of EVs sold tied to an automaker's overall sales within the state. The ZEV program assigns each automaker credits based on the type of ZEV and its battery range. Automakers must maintain ZEV credits equal to a set percentage of nonelectric sales. The standard requires automakers make available enough EV models so that about 8 to 9 percent of passenger vehicles sold are electric-drive by 2025.
Polis' mandate follows the state's adoption in November of low-emission vehicle standards, beginning with the 2022 model year.