Colorado Comes To Terms With All Major Automakers On Emissions & ZEV Mandates

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When Colorado governor Jared Polis took office in January, one of his first acts was to announce that his state would join with 11 other states to implement the zero-emissions policies promulgated by the California Air Resources Board (CARB). Automakers were unhappy with that plan, arguing that its requirements called for too much too soon, a familiar refrain when it comes to automakers and regulators.


The manufacturers and state officials went back and forth over the past 6 months trying to find a way forward that was acceptable to all parties. The clock is ticking, as the Trump maladminstration is busy drafting new rules that will roll back emissions standards to levels unseen in America this century. Last week., California announced it had reached an agreement with four automakers — Ford, Honda, Volkswagen, and BMW — that would see those companies drop their opposition to the CARB protocols in exchange for a little extra time to comply with stricter standards.

Now Colorado says it has reached a similar agreement, but this time with the two trade associations that represent virtually all automobile manufacturers in America — the Association of Global Manufacturers, which includes Nissan, Subaru, Toyota, Honda, Hyundai, and KIA as well as a number of “Tier One” suppliers like Panasonic and Bosch, and the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, whose members include the three major US manufacturers plus BMW, Jaguar Land Rover, and Mercedes. In a statement on its website, the Alliance had this to say:

“Automakers are building more electric models while Colorado is investing in market conditions that encourage consumers to buy them, so we have developed a way to work together on our shared goal of getting more electric vehicles on Colorado roads. We are extremely appreciative that the Polis administration worked with automakers and other stakeholders to find an innovative alternative regulatory proposal that will implement the ZEV program in Colorado.

“This regulator proposal addresses concerns with earlier proposals by providing the support Coloradans need to buy electric vehicles while allowing auto manufacturers to transition into Colorado’s ZEV program, which would cover vehicle model years 2023-2025, with the ability of automakers to earn early credits in the 2021-2022 model years.“

“All of this was made possible by the fact that Colorado has one of the highest adoption rates of electric vehicles in the country as well as the largest electric vehicle incentives for consumers to buy or lease a ZEV. Colorado also has an expanding electric charging infrastructure, which will grow over the coming years based on legislation that was enacted earlier this year.

“Additionally, it is very helpful that the state has committed to developing a clean transportation plan to support the increased adoption and sale of ZEVs, including the state’s commitment to increase the number of ZEVs in its fleet of vehicles.”

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According to CNET, the secret sauce that made the agreement possible was Colorado’s willingness to defer full implementation of the CARB rules until 2023 model year cars are offered for sale. “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, says CNET.

The agreement must be approved by the Colorado Air Quality Control Commission, which will hold a hearing on the proposed agreement on August 13. It is expected the commission will approve the terms of the agreement.

The intransigence of the Trump maladministration has forced states and manufacturers to work out separate agreements that bypass federal rules. But the puling potentate of Pennsylvania Avenue and his acolytes are still committed to revoking the exception to federal auto emissions that California was granted back in the ’60s.

If that happens, the other states who follow California rules will also find their stricter emissions rules terminated and everyone will head to court to sue and counter-sue each other. That is exactly what the automakers fear most and the reason they are willing to strike separate agreements with individual states. With California and Colorado now on board as well as the vast majority of automakers, the likelihood is that whatever diabolical scheme Andrew Wheeler comes up with will probably be irrelevant, which is good news for us all.

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Steve Hanley

Steve writes about the interface between technology and sustainability from his home in Florida or anywhere else The Force may lead him. He is proud to be "woke" and doesn't really give a damn why the glass broke. He believes passionately in what Socrates said 3000 years ago: "The secret to change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old but on building the new." You can follow him on Substack and LinkedIn but not on Fakebook or any social media platforms controlled by narcissistic yahoos.

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