Colorado new car dealers step up to clear the air

ImageWhen Colorado’s new car dealers channel their collective energy towards improving the state, big things happen.

Exhibit A: The Clear the Air Foundation.

More than 750 old, high-polluting cars have been removed from the roads thanks to the dealers’ shared commitment to this nonprofit, which was created by the Colorado Automobile Dealers Association.

Why does this matter?  Because old, poorly maintained vehicles (known as “gross emitters”) produce a vastly disproportionate share of harmful pollutants – as much as almost 200 times more carbon dioxide than clean new cars, according to a 2006 New Yorker article by Malcolm Gladwell.  As a result, Gladwell noted: “In Denver, five percent of the vehicles on the road produce fifty-five percent of the automobile pollution.”

You know the vehicles we’re talking about – the ones that force you to put your car’s air on recirculate when you’re stuck behind them in traffic.

Because new vehicles are so clean, the air has become clearer even while Americans have driven increasingly more total miles. The US Environmental Protection Agency reports that, between 1970 and 2011, Americans’ travel by car increased by 167 percent yet emissions of six common pollutants declined by 68 percent.

But, while new automobile dealers may justifiably proud of the low-polluting vehicles on their showroom floors, we also need to retire old gross emitters to make strides to clearing the air.

About 60 Colorado dealers have stepped up to that challenge, donating vehicles they bought as trades to the Clear the Air Foundation. The foundation then works with members of the Colorado Auto Recyclers, who buy the cars with a promise to crush and shred them. The steel and some components are reused. (In fact, vehicles are the most recycled product in the world.)

As a result of this partnership, the foundation is expected to be self-sustaining, with excess revenues funding scholarships for students entering automotive fields. 

The Colorado Automobile Dealers Association also made an extra $1 million contribution to the foundation in order to provide a permanent endowment for scholarships for students, including auto techs entering automotive fields.

Donations have been pouring in to the Clear the Air Foundation so far this year, with a friendly competition emerging for the top spots in this environmental initiative. The year-to-date leaderboard stands as follows:

  • Pro Chrysler Jeep Dodge Ram, 17 donated vehicles
  • Planet Honda, 13 donated vehicles
  • Johnson Auto Plaza, 11 donated vehicles
  • Shortline Automotive, 9 donated vehicles

Donating seven cars each so far this year are Dellenbach Motors, Planet Hyundai, Courtesy Acura, AutoNation Honda 104th and Glenwood Springs Ford.

Donating six vehicles each this year to date are The Faricy Boys, Suss Buick GMC and AutoNation Ford.

Peak Kia Littleton has donated five cars in 2013.

In the category of four donations so far in 2013 are Christopher’s Dodge World, Davidson-Gebhardt Chevrolet, Ed Carroll Motor Co, Hellman Motors, John Elway Chevrolet Broadway and Medved Chevrolet North.

The Clear the Air Foundation also welcomes donations from members of the public, who can rest assured that the gross emitters they donate will not just end up on a used-car lot where they will be sold to pollute again.  Learn more at or by calling 303.775.8896


About timwjackson

Working every day for a better Colorado.
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