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State Of Colorado Launches First EV Education Campaign

The Colorado Energy Office (CEO) and the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) recently launched an EV education campaign. They did this to raise awareness of state and federal EV tax credits and Colorado’s EV infrastructure investments. They also did it to help first-time EV buyers prepare for their purchases and EV ownership.

The EV CO website provides information about the benefits of driving electric vehicles, financial incentives, and EV prices. For example, one of the benefits referenced on the site is that: “In Colorado, at an average of $0.13 per kilowatt hour at home, you can save between 66% and 75% to “fill up” at home compared to the price of gasoline.” Another is that some studies have found EVs cost 40% less to maintain. There are many other EV-related facts on the site as well. 

Carrie Atiyeh, a senior program manager on the Transportation Fuels and Technology team at the Colorado Energy Office, answered some questions about the EV campaign for CleanTechnica.

In the first nine months of 2022, EVs made up 9.6% of all new vehicle sales in Colorado (compared to 6% YTD in 2021). Why was there an increase in Colorado EV sales?

Image credit: Carrie Atiyeh

There are likely several reasons why EVs have seen an increase in sales compared to last year. First, there is now an EV out there for every lifestyle, including many crossover and SUV options, which make up the highest volume of gas-powered vehicle sales nationally. These vehicles are being offered at diverse price points, making for an attractive alternative to the traditional gas-powered options. Second, there are several EV-friendly policies in place in the form of tax credits and investments in charging infrastructure at the state and federal level that help make EV ownership more affordable and convenient to own and operate. These efforts are complimented by strong advertising from automakers, making EVs more mainstream today than at any point in the past.

A 2020 study commissioned by the Colorado Energy Office (CEO) found that 63% of non-EV owners plan to purchase their first EV within the next 10 years. That’s a lot of interest — what do you attribute it to?

I think Coloradans are acutely aware of the impacts of air pollution and smog on our ability to see and experience the outdoors. Because of this, we feel a sense of responsibility to preserve our environment for our future enjoyment. EVs are only one part of the solution but making the switch to driving electric is one of the largest actions that an individual can make to reducing air pollution.

I also think Coloradans are hearing from automakers their intentions to go all-electric over the next 10-15 years and getting the opportunity to own electrified versions of the vehicles they currently know, own and love.

Finally, and much like the smartphone revolution of the last decade, we expect that as EVs grow in availability, affordability, and familiarity demand will grow exponentially.

Are there any state incentives for Coloradans to purchase electric vehicles?

Coloradans can receive a $2,500 tax credit for the purchase of a new EV (this will lower to $2,000 in 2023) and a $1,500 tax credit for the lease of a new EV. These incentives can be stacked with federal incentives for up to $10,000 in savings for Coloradans.

As of October 1, 2022, there were 3,646 Level 2 plugs and 719 DC fast-charging plugs throughout Colorado. Do you have plans to add more soon? If so, how many and when?

Investments by the state, private industry, utilities and others are continuing to expand the number of chargers available throughout Colorado. Over the course of the next year, the state will be investing more than $25 million in state and federal funds for Level 2 and DC fast-charging. This includes the first installment of federal National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (NEVI) funding. In total, Colorado will receive $57 million over five years from the NEVI program to install DC fast-chargers located along federal designated corridors within 50 miles of one another. Colorado is also supporting charging installation at workplaces and at multi-family housing.

The Polis administration has set a goal of 940,000 EVs on Colorado roads by 2030, but why did it select this particular total number and about how many EVs are there in Colorado now? How does the number of Colorado EVs compare to the total number of all vehicles in the state, including gas and diesel ones?

The goal of 940,000 EVs was originally set in the 2018 Colorado Electric Vehicle Plan and will be equivalent to approximately 15% of vehicles on the road. Transportation is the largest contributor to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in Colorado and light-duty vehicles make up the largest share of transportation sector emissions. To meet the state’s GHG reduction goals, reducing emissions from this sector is critically important. There are nearly 68,000 EVs on Colorado roads today and 2022 registrations show we are on track to exceed total 2021 registrations this month.

What can Coloradans use the EV CO website for?

EV CO is a resource for all Coloradans and provides accurate and up-to-date information about purchase incentives, ongoing financial savings, charging, and the fun and exciting benefits of EVs such as instant torque, regenerative braking, and many other features. It also answers common EV questions and provides links and resources so that Coloradans can continue their purchase journey by finding a nearby EV event in their community or a nearby dealership.

Do you have any data showing which EVs are being purchased and operated in Colorado?

To date in 2022, Coloradans have registered nearly 22,000 EVs, with 75% of those being full battery electric vehicles (BEV) and 25% plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV). Of all EVs currently on Colorado roads the top models are the Tesla 3 and Y, Nissan Leaf, Chevrolet Volt and Bolt EV, Ford Mustang Mach-E and BMW x5.

Is the state of Colorado purchasing EVs for its own fleets?

Yes. Governor Polis issued a greening government executive order in 2019 that includes ensuring EVs are the default vehicle type for all light-duty vehicles for future state fleet vehicle purchases. Currently, there are more than 200 EVs in the fleet or on order and many state agencies anticipate receiving the first of many electric trucks soon.

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