Colorado’s Opportunity for Cleaner Cars

The state can lead by adopting the full Advanced Clean Cars II rule and ensuring all Coloradans have the freedom to choose quality clean vehicles.

A gray car on a dirt road with two trees in the background

Alana Miller/NRDC

Zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs) are one of our best solutions to act on climate, clean up dirty air pollution, and reduce transportation costs for drivers. Colorado leaders know that everyone will benefit from a zero-emission transportation system, yet this future is not reflected fully in the state’s current plans.

This year, Colorado’s Air Quality Control Commission (AQCC) will have the opportunity to adopt Advanced Clean Cars II (ACC II), a zero-emission vehicle standard that seven other states have adopted, which will encourage economic growth and climate resilience in Colorado. ACC II is a commonsense standard, supported by leading automakers, that ramps up sales of new zero-emission cars over time, reaching 100% of new sales by 2035. This date provides critical market certainty and expands consumer choices for clean vehicles in-state. In Colorado’s current plans, however, the ACC II standard is cut short of its full potential, with the state disappointingly proposing to end the standard in 2032.

Colorado has strong climate goals and air pollution reduction needs, and the state is ready for a strong ACC II standard that will help meet these targets. Adopting the full ACC II standard through 2035 will:

  • Ensure skyrocketing demand for clean vehicles is met with quality models and expand consumers’ freedom of choice
  • Reduce 90 percent of poisonous NOx emissions and 50 percent of greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector, protecting the health of all Coloradans and mitigating climate threats
  • Boost the economy by reducing the cost of vehicle ownership and adding thousands of good-paying jobs
  • Make the electricity grid more reliable and lower electricity bills for everyone, even households without an electric vehicle
  • Signal to auto manufacturers that clean vehicles are here to stay in Colorado
  • Show leadership to other states and meet Governor Polis’ electric vehicle goals of nearly every light duty vehicle being electric by 2050

The climate emergency won't wait. Colorado is ready for the full ACC II, and we cannot afford to cut short or delay this crucial standard.

Coloradans want clean cars

Coloradans are buying zero-emission vehicles as fast as they’re made. ZEV sales represented 10.5 percent of the new vehicle market in Colorado in 2022, up from nearly 7 percent in 2021. Since automakers are more likely to send ZEVs to states with clean cars rules, adopting the full ACC II standard would ensure a reliable supply of ZEVs will come to Colorado to meet skyrocketing demand while increasing consumer choices, so all Coloradans get the vehicles they want. It would also ensure that more ZEVs enter the used vehicle market, where the majority of drivers purchase vehicles.

A bar graph of original EV registrations in Colorado

EValuateCO, “Colorado Dashboard,” Atlas Public Policy,

Protecting Colorado’s health & climate

Fossil fuel–powered transportation has contributed to dangerous air pollution in Colorado which threatens residents’ health and way of life. ACC II will reduce transportation-related air pollution in Colorado by up to 90 percent by 2050, protecting residents from asthma, cancers, and premature death.

Transportation is also the largest contributor to climate change–causing greenhouse gas emissions in Colorado. To meet statewide climate goals required by law, Colorado must reduce transportation greenhouse gas emissions 40 percent by 2030. Yet, recent analysis from the state shows that Colorado’s transportation emissions are greatly exceeding projections. Colorado needs a powerful policy like ACC II to get back on track and meet emissions reduction targets.

Colorado’s infrastructure is ready for ACC II

Colorado has been building charging infrastructure to support the transition to zero-emission vehicles for years. With 4,614 total charging ports, 3,857 level 2 chargers, and 757 DC fast chargers, Colorado is ready for ZEVs now—and, the federal government, utilities, state agencies, and the private sector have committed millions of dollars to increase infrastructure build out.

The largest utilities in Colorado have committed millions toward EV infrastructure and planning, including $110 million from Xcel for over 20,000 charging stations, research on grid resiliency, and direct rebates for installing chargers at homes or businesses. Colorado dedicated $18.5 million to build Level 2 chargers and $10.4 million for DC Fast Charging “plazas” in both high-use areas and to support long-distance trips through innovative funding Enterprises. Recent federal support includes the National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure program, which commits $57 million to Colorado over five years.

Adopting the full ACC II standard sends a signal to utilities and the market that Colorado should continue supporting a robust charging infrastructure network.

Electric vehicles benefit Coloradans

Clean cars are good for Coloradans. The owner of a ZEV saves $6,000 to $10,000 over the car’s lifetime due to reduced fuel and maintenance costs, and the Inflation Reduction Act provides a $7,500 tax credit for purchasing a new EV and $4,000 for a used EV. Electric vehicles also help reduce everyone’s electric bill­—whether or not that person drives an EV–by putting downward pressure on rates.

The ACC II standard will bring more clean energy industry and good-paying jobs to Colorado, including vehicle manufacturing, construction, and electrical work.

There are more ZEVs available to purchase than ever before, including affordable models and 4WD SUVs. All ZEVs can handle Colorado’s mountainous terrain and cold weather. The full ACC II standard tells automakers to continue innovating and expanding affordable options and bringing them to our state.

Colorado is ready for a transportation sector that is free of air pollution and fossil fuels. With a strong track record of climate policy leadership, Colorado can lead once again by adopting the full Advanced Clean Cars II rule, through 2035, and ensuring all Coloradans have the freedom to choose quality clean vehicles. We cannot afford to go part way with standards that will protect our health and environment–the Colorado Way is a bold commitment to climate action.

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