5 Benefits of Colorado’s New Zero Emission Vehicle Program

By: Asheton Gilbertson

Sunny skies, a light breeze, and warm temperatures. Sounds like an ideal Colorado summer day — a perfect time for getting outdoors and enjoying some fresh air.

Unfortunately, it’s times like this that Coloradans are most likely to experience unhealthy air quality. Heat and sunlight combine with vehicle exhaust and other air pollutants to form harmful haze and smog that pose a range of health risks to our communities, from breathing problems to lung and heart damage and even premature death. Children, seniors, and people with pre-existing health conditions are especially sensitive to these effects.

At least 14 air quality alerts have been issued this year. That’s two whole weeks we’ve been advised to stay indoors. And these alerts are only becoming more common.

Thankfully, Colorado’s air quality experts have a plan to clean up our air and reduce the harmful tailpipe pollution impacting our way of life.

Just last week, Colorado’s Air Quality Control Commissioners voted to adopt a Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) standard which will bring more electric vehicles onto Colorado’s roads and help Coloradans breathe easier. 

The ZEV standard is a victory for Colorado and will bring huge benefits to our environment and communities. Here are the five we’re most excited about:

1. Cleaner Air

Community members rally for clean airColorado’s cities have some of the worst air quality in the nation. Bringing more electric vehicles to our state is a big part of the solution to our air pollution problems. 

Unlike gasoline and diesel-fueled cars, which pollute our air with toxins that form smog and acid rain, zero emission vehicles don’t produce any tailpipe exhaust. The ZEV standard will avoid up to 7.6 million tons of harmful pollutants annually by 2040 — the equivalent of taking almost 1.6 million cars off the road.

2. A Healthier Climate

A woman holds a sign that reads, Because tailpipe exhaust is one of the leading sources of carbon pollution, zero emission vehicles will help us combat climate change and safeguard a healthy climate for future generations. 

Preventing the impacts of climate change from worsening is imperative to protecting public health. Rising temperatures intensify the devastating impacts of smog and ground-level ozone on the health of our people, especially those who are most vulnerable, including children, seniors, and people with pre-existing health conditions. Getting more zero emission vehicles on the road will help Coloradans avoid more frequent doctor visits and missed school and work days, saving us up to $100 million each year in health benefits.

3. Consumer Savings

Electric vehicles (EVs) offer impressive savings on maintenance and fuel costs. The average operating cost of a zero emission vehicle in the United States is less than half of the cost of a comparable gasoline-powered vehicle. In Colorado, EV drivers can expect to save nearly 70 percent on fuel costs alone. 

And these savings will only get better! As our electric grid gets cleaner and utility rates drop, owners of zero emission vehicles can expect to save more than $5000 over their car’s lifetime.

4. More Electric Vehicle Options

Auto manufacturers are already introducing new electric vehicle models with better battery ranges and more affordable price tags. The ZEV standard will ensure that Coloradans have access to the latest, most efficient, and most versatile models.

And these benefits aren’t limited to new car owners — as more new electric vehicles are purchased, more used electric vehicles will become available. What’smore, as battery costs continue to drop, zero emission vehicles are expected to become even cheaper to purchase than gasoline-powered vehicles.

5. An Expanding Clean Energy Economy

Transforming transportation will have a positive economic impact on our state, now and into the future. Mid-range projections estimate that zero emission vehicles will save Colorado $65 million in 2025, and close to $2 billion in 2050.

These savings will bolster economies across the state, allowing Colorado to make even bigger investments in clean energy, clean jobs, and a clean economy. 

The ZEV standard puts Colorado on the road to transform transportation, improve air quality, and fight climate change. We’re so excited to continue our work to accelerate Colorado’s transition to a clean energy future.