Auto dealers discounting electric cars April to June | PostIndependent.com

Auto dealers discounting electric cars April to June

If you've been on the verge of buying a electric vehicle, this April through June will be your lucky three months.

Four car dealerships, two in Glenwood Springs, have announced a campaign from April 1 to June 30 to discount electric vehicles in Garfield, Pitkin and Eagle counties.

These four dealerships — Audi Glenwood Springs, Mountain Chevrolet in West Glenwood, Co's BMW Center of Loveland and Boulder Nissan — have launched the sale in response to a request for proposals put out by Garfield Clean Energy in January.

Those dealerships are discounting seven models of electric cars, some of which are fully electric and some hybrid models. All seven have plug-in electric motors.

The Audi A3 e-tron Sportback is a hybrid with a starting manufacturer's suggested retail price of $38,900, which Glenwood Springs Audi is discounting by $2,200.

The Nissan Leaf, offered in the S and SV models, is a fully electric car with a starting MSRP of $30,680 and $34,200, respectively, which Boulder Nissan is discounting by $8,000.

Three different models of BMWs will be available from Co's BMW Center of Loveland. The BMW i3 is a fully electric car with a starting MSRP of $43,600, and the dealership is discounting that by $3,000. The BMW 530e sedan hybrid starts at $51,400 with a $3,000 discount. And the BMW X5 40e, a "sports activity vehicle" hybrid, starts at $62,100 with a $4,000 discount.

At Mountain Chevrolet of Glenwood Springs are two models of electric cars that will be discounted. The Chevrolet Volt, an electric car with a gasoline-powered backup generator starting at $33,220, will be discounted $1,000. And Chevy's new, fully electric Chevrolet Bolt will start at $36,620 and be discounted $300.

The high-demand Bolt, which has swept three major awards by being named car of the year by Motor Trend, Green Car Journal and the North American International Auto Show, will not be available until May in Colorado, said Michael Payne, owner of Mountain Chevrolet.

While it's being offered at a lower discount, many dealers are marking the Bolt up due to its high demand, said Payne.

On top of these discounts offered by the dealerships, customers can tap into a Colorado tax credit for $5,000 and a federal tax credit for up to $7,500 for purchasing plug-in electric vehicles, said Heather McGregor, program manager Clean Energy Economy for the Region.

The combination of the lower price of electricity, the reduced maintenance costs and the available tax credits "makes the cost of these vehicles really affordable," said Aspen Mayor Steve Skadron. "These are quite valuable incentives to get out there and purchase electric vehicles. Now is the right time."

Glenwood Springs Councilman Stephen Bershenyi focused on the full circle of economic benefits of putting more electric cars on the roads.

"Corporations like (Touchstone Energy Cooperatives), which Holy Cross Energy is part of, and Xcel Energy have begun in earnest to convert coal-burning plants to natural gas to produce electric energy with a smaller carbon footprint and at a price point that's able to make a hedge against inflation," he said.

"And as we begin to look at electric vehicles and incorporate them into our daily lives, it means we begin to look at electricity as our primary source of energy for living our lives," said Bershenyi.

So the drivers create a smaller footprint, and the companies that they're creating the demand for will also continue to reduce their carbon footprint, he said.

All of this leads to increased development of natural gas, as well as wind and solar farms, said Bershenyi. "So the whole thing becomes one big circle, of which we are all a part."

Payne said that some predictions foresee electric vehicle sales surpassing regular vehicle sales by as soon as 2025.

His business was an early adopter of Chevy's electric vehicles, and since then Mountain Chevrolet has become one of the state's top sellers of Chevrolet's electric vehicles.

While many customers on the fence about fully electric vehicles are experiencing "range anxiety," this is going to become less and less an issue, said Nigel Zeid of Boulder Nissan.

The Leaf, for example, can travel only 107 miles on a single charge. The BMW i3 can travel up to 114 on its battery. However, when the Chevrolet Bolt is available, it will boast a 238-mile range on a charge.

The next couple years are going to be big in terms of improving technology and upgrading infrastructure, said Zeid.

Colorado is completely on board with installing more electric car charging stations. Zeid expects that Colorado will make big investments in charging stations with the money it receives from the Volkswagen settlement stemming from its scandal over cheated emissions tests.

Additionally, when people really consider how far their daily commute is and how often they go on long road trips, they usually find an electric car is perfect for them, said Zeid.

This sales event campaign has also set a goal of 50 electric vehicles sold from April through June.

The other end of this campaign is focused on increasing the usability of electric cars by upgrading the area's infrastructure. Currently these three counties have 160 charging stations, and the goal is to increase that to 200 this year.

Toward that end, Kim Langmaid, a Vail councilwoman, added that the state's Charge Ahead Colorado grant program can cover up to 80 percent of installation costs for such stations. "So there's no reason we can't hit this goal," she said.

This sales event is being spearheaded by the Colorado Energy Office's Refuel Colorado program and Garfield Clean Energy, while Clean Energy Economy for the Region has organized the event.

A host of local sponsors are also funding an advertising campaign and promoting electric vehicles during this period, including Community Office for Resource Efficiency, Aspen, Snowmass Village, Glenwood Springs, Eagle County, Vail, Avon, Holy Cross Energy, Garfield County Environmental Health and Walking Mountains Science Center.