Jul 16, 2023

Colorado launches electric vehicle exchange program

Coloradans with old cars soon will be able to exchange them for money toward the purchase of an electric vehicle as part of a broader effort by state leaders to incentivize people to swap gas cars for electric models.

The new Vehicle Exchange Colorado program allows low- and moderate-income residents of Colorado to exchange their old cars for up to $6,000 off an electric vehicle, providing another discount that can be combined with other state and federal EV tax credits. The application portal opens Thursday morning.

The program is aimed at helping reach officials’ goal of getting 940,000 electric vehicles on the road by 2030 — a number that is more than 10 times the current total of electric vehicles owned in the state.

Transportation is one of the biggest producers of greenhouse gases in the state, said Ed Piersa, a program manager with the Colorado Energy Office.

The program is income restricted to people who might otherwise be shut out from the electric vehicle market, but the cleaner air that will result from fewer gasoline cars will help the entire state, Piersa said.

“It’s beneficial to all Coloradans,” he said.

To be eligible, households must make 80% or less of their county’s area median income. In metro Denver, that’s $65,680 or less for a single person or $93,760 for a family of four. Gas-powered cars to be exchanged must be paid off and at least 12 years old. More recent cars that fail a state emissions test also are eligible.

A $6,000 rebate will be available to lease or buy a new electric vehicle valued at less than $50,000, while a $4,000 rebate will apply toward the lease or purchase of a used electric vehicle. The rebates are applied when the vehicle is purchased from a state-authorized seller. Both battery-operated and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles are eligible.

People who meet income restrictions can apply online for the program beginning at 9 a.m. Thursday. The Colorado Energy Office will accept applications until the $1.8 million allocated to the program for the year is exhausted.

About 345 electric cars will be purchased or leased through the program in its first year, Piersa said.

The old cars turned in through the program will be junked — salvageable parts will be removed and the rest will be destroyed.

The car exchange program is funded through the Community Access Enterprise, a pot of money established by the legislature through 2021’s transportation funding bill to improve infrastructure for electric vehicles and incentivize their use over the next decade.

“It’s one we hope to have in existence for years in the future — knock on wood,” Piersa said of the vehicle exchange program.

The program may shift in coming years as the electric vehicle market changes, Piersa said. For example, state officials may choose to extend the rebates to vehicles powered by hydrogen fuel cells.

The Community Access Enterprise also will help pay for the electrification of vehicle fleets and the construction of charging stations.

The vehicle exchange program is the latest addition to state efforts to get people into electric cars. State lawmakers already enacted tax credits worth up to $7,500 on electric vehicle purchases.

Other states — including Vermont and California — have launched similar vehicle exchange programs.

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