A Colorado state agency spent more than half a million dollars to tout the benefits of electric vehicles in an educational campaign that promotes the EV industry.
The campaign, which the state launched Monday, seeks to inform Coloradans about how, among other things, “seamlessly EVs can fit into your life and find answers to all of your questions related to buying, owning, and driving an electric vehicle.”
Notably, the campaign notes the tax credits available to Coloradans who wish to purchase an electric vehicle. The campaign also directs Coloradans to a list of EV dealers, as well as another webpage that compares prices. Both webpages are owned by Xcel Energy.
The spending reflects the sharp policy shift Democrats in Colorado have embraced in their pursuit of transitioning the state away from fossil-fired energy. What makes the latest move unique is that it’s akin to advertising to consumers — but done by the government effectively on behalf of a private industry.
Gov. Jared Polis hopes to put 940,000 electric vehicles on Colorado’s roads in the next seven years, but, as of Nov. 1, only about 68,000 EVs are registered in Colorado, leaving the governor hundreds of thousands of cars short.
Given the enormity of the challenge, the Colorado Energy Office announced Monday its new “transformative initiative” to increase EV purchases — a public awareness and education campaign called “EV CO” to “promote the convenience and financial and environmental benefits of driving electric cars.”
It cost $550,000 to develop and launch the program, agency spokesman Ari Rosenblum told The Gazette.
“The campaign is the first of its kind by the state and reflects the Polis administration’s commitment to reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the transportation sector while allowing Colorado consumers to make choices that best meet their lifestyle and budget needs,” the agency said in a news release.
To reach Polis’ goal, auto dealers would have to sell just under 125,000 EVs per year — a “hockey stick” uptick in sales, said Tim Jackson, director of the Colorado Automobile Dealers Association.
Jackson added that EV sales would have to comprise about 50% of the approximately 250,000 annual new vehicle sales.
EV sales currently comprise 9.6% of all new vehicles sold in Colorado, according to the Colorado Energy Office.
Jackson said he is “somewhat more optimistic today” than he was three years ago, when Polis signed the executive order setting the EV goal.
Whether Coloradans will buy electric vehicles at that rate is “the $64 billion question,” Jackson said.
“I think there will still be (internal combustion engine vehicles) even in 2035, when GM says they’ll be all electric on all their models,” Jackson said. “They haven’t gone the next step and said that means that they won’t have any gas-powered cars in any of those models.”
The Ford F-150 pickup, which Jackson said is the No. 1 selling nameplate in the world and has been for 46 years, is now sold in an electric version, and Ford is increasing production volume “dramatically.” But Jackson said GM still plans to sell gas-powered vehicle “for the foreseeable future.”
Jackson added that even Ford Motor Company doesn’t foresee the world will be all electric by 2035.
Addressing what experts say is the No. 1 concern of EV buyers, the ability to recharge when needed, the Colorado Department of Transportation and the CEO have worked to build a network of public charging stations using, in part, federal grants from the $550 billion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.
The federal legislation provides $7.5 billion to build a national network, with an EV charger no more than 50 miles apart on the Interstate Highway System.
Colorado has asked for a waiver so it can invest federal money in chargers located on secondary highways because of the rural nature of Colorado’s transportation system.
The state’s energy office said that, as of Oct. 1, there were 3,646 Level 2 plugs and 719 DC fast-charging plugs throughout the state. The office did not specify how many are publicly or privately owned.
“The state will be investing more than $25 million over the next year in state and federal funds to continue to grow and expand Colorado’s EV charging infrastructure network,” Rosenblum, the agency spokesman, said in an email.