Drivers looking to buy a new electric vehicle are limited mostly to cars, but a new state rule could ensure more SUVs, Jeeps and other models better suited to the Southwest Colorado lifestyle are available at dealerships.
The state Air Quality Control Commission approved new air-quality regulations last week, requiring automakers to sell more than 5% zero-emission vehicles by 2023 and more than 6% zero-emission vehicles by 2025, according to a news release.
The commission passed the rule, intended to cut ozone pollution, on an 8-1 vote.
Some electric- and hybrid-vehicle models better suited to rural driving, such as the new Subaru Crosstrek hybrid, are not for sale in Colorado because the state did not have a vehicle emissions standard, said Will Toor, executive director of the Colorado Energy Office, in an interview with The Durango Herald before the vote.
Automakers do not make enough electric cars to meet demand nationally, so many of the cars that might sell well in Colorado are for sale in other states with standards for electric car sales, he said.
The new regulations will ensure auto dealerships have a greater variety of models for sale, he said.
“We think it will really increase consumer choice and accessibility,” he said.
La Plata County resident Tiare Flora drives a Nissan Leaf and loves her all-electric car, but she bought a Subaru as a backup vehicle because she was nervous about driving her Leaf in winter conditions and far away from charging stations, she said.
She said she supports the new rule, if it can encourage competition and bring down prices for electric vehicles.
“I think more competition is better,” she said.
Flora’s Leaf was one of 67 electric vehicles owned by La Plata County residents in July 2018, according to a report from the Colorado Department of Revenue and Motor Vehicles.
Many more electric vehicles could be coming to Southwest Colorado because Ford, Audi, Jeep, Volvo, Honda, Jaguar Land Rover and other major automakers plan to introduce many new models in the next five years.
Ford plans to release 40 hybrid and fully electric cars by 2022, Audi expects to release 20 electric models by 2025 and Jeep expects to release 14 hybrid and fully electric cars by 2022, according to data compiled by the Four Corners Office for Resource Efficiency, also known as 4CORE.
To power electric cars, the state has set aside $10.33 million to build charging stations along key corridors. Funding for the charging stations came from a settlement in a government lawsuit against Volkswagen for installing software in its vehicles to cheat emissions tests.
Durango, Cortez, Silverton and Pagosa Springs are all slated to receive fast-charging stations from the settlement, said Laurie Dickson, executive director of 4CORE.
Durango has seven locations with charging stations, and Mancos got its first charging station in December. The Colorado Welcome Center in Cortez also just received a grant to put in the town’s first station, Dickson said.
“The infrastructure is rapidly growing,” she said.
The ability to recharge a car is one of the most common concerns residents have about switching to an electric vehicle, she said. Recharging an electric vehicle can take about four to eight hours at the Level 2 charging stations through out the region, she said. Recharging a car at a fast-charging station can take 20 minutes, she said.
“There’s a cultural-social change that needs to occur in how we think about our fueling,” Dickson said.
Flora bought her Leaf about six years ago, when the maximum range on the car was 90 miles, a limitation that required her to plan out-of-town trips carefully, she said.
But her next vehicle is likely to be electric as well, with a much longer range.
She is interested in buying the new electric Volkswagen Microbus, she said. The bus will have a range of about 260 miles, and it will be clean, quiet and classy.
“It’s the cutest,” she said.
firstname.lastname@example.orgThis story has been corrected because it previously confused Level 2 charging stations and fast-charging stations. Electric cars can be recharged in 20 minutes at fast-charging stations. At Level 2 charging stations, it can take between four to eight hours to recharge a vehicle. This story was also updated to clarify the funding for new fast-charging stations came from the Volkswagen settlement.