Electric vehicle buyers pleased with their new cars | PostIndependent.com

Electric vehicle buyers pleased with their new cars

Heather McGregor
Clean Energy Economy News
Chris Lane of Basalt charges his new 2017 Chevrolet Bolt all-electric vehicle at Whole Foods Market in Basalt on June 5. Lane purchased the vehicle through the regional Electric Vehicle Sales Event.
Heather McGregor |

Chris Lane is in a competition with himself to make the most energy efficient trip from Basalt to Aspen in his new Chevrolet Bolt.

Greta Blamire is using the electric mode in her new Audi A3 e-tron for all her local driving in Avon. “I’m the one with the big smile,” Blamire said.

And at the Eagle River Water and Sanitation District, two managers are driving new Nissan Leafs, an easy way of saving the district about $900 a year in fuel costs.

These are some of the auto buyers who used the three-county Electric Vehicle Sales Event to get an extra discount to purchase or lease a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle or an all-electric battery electric vehicle.

The sales event started April 1 and ran through June 30, with participating dealers Mountain Chevrolet, Audi Glenwood Springs, Boulder Nissan, and Co’s BMW Center of Loveland. By late June, they sold or leased 30 electric vehicles.

On June 23, Nissan USA announced its discount on the Leaf will increase to $10,000, and Boulder Nissan will offer the discount through July 31, or for as long as 2017 models are available, for all customers of Xcel Energy, Holy Cross Energy, Aspen Electric, Glenwood Springs Electric and Black Hills Energy in Garfield, Eagle and Pitkin counties.

And Holy Cross Energy is offering a $200 utility bill refund for any customer who purchased a new electric vehicle from one of the four participating dealers by June 30. The refund will cover the cost of charging an electric vehicle for about 6,000 miles of driving.

Blamire learned about the Holy Cross discount a few weeks after she replaced her 2005 Audi A4 with the new A3 e-tron. “That was pure icing on the cake,” she said.

A Holy Cross customer newsletter sent out in March described the special pricing on the Audi, BMW, Chevrolet and Nissan electric vehicles. Blamire was already looking for a new car, possibly a plug-in. Once she learned about Audi’s e-tron plug-in and the Sales Event pricing, she went to Audi Glenwood Springs in early May to make the purchase — on her birthday.

“That just pushed us over the edge as far as decision-making,” she said of the $2,200 discount from the dealership, along with more than $9,000 in state and federal tax credits.

In Basalt, Chris Lane made an upgrade in the Chevrolet line, after driving a Chevy Volt plug-in hybrid for the past five years. He was the first customer to buy the all-electric Chevy Bolt from Mountain Chevrolet.

“It’s become an obsession for me,” said Lane, who commutes from Basalt to Aspen daily, keeping a close eye on the electricity consumption on his trip.

“On a typical day, from Basalt to Aspen is 5.2 kilowatt-hours, and to come back is about 2 kilowatt-hours,” he said. One kilowatt-hour is about the same amount of electricity as 16 old-fashioned incandescent 60-watt light bulbs would use in an hour.

Lane recently made the trip home on just 1.8 kilowatt-hours. “I’m competing against myself to see how low I can get it,” he said.

The Bolt is not just about energy efficiency, he said. It’s a “pure joy” to drive, climbing steep mountain roads and taking curves with plenty of power, rocketing from 0 to 60 mph in less than 7 seconds.

“Once you have an electric vehicle, you’ll never go back to an internal combustion engine,” Lane said. “They take virtually no maintenance, they’re faster and more reliable, and with snow tires they do fine in the snow.”

Lane has found plenty of public charging stations to use while in Aspen, and he expects long-distance trips to be feasible in the Bolt as more fast chargers are installed in cities, towns and along highway routes.

He already made a trip to Moab in the Bolt with his wife, their two kids, plus bikes and gear, testing the advertised 238-mile range of the vehicle.

“I see a day when gas stations go extinct,” he mused.

At the Eagle River Water and Sanitation District, Fleet and Facilities Supervisor Gusty Kanakis used the Sales Event discount to buy two Nissan Leafs in May from Boulder Nissan as company cars for General Manager Linn Brooks and Field Manager Glen Phelps.

“Our special district can’t get the tax credits like private buyers can,” Kanakis said, “but with the Nissan discount, that made it work. We decided to buy two cars instead of one at this rate.”

Brooks and Phelps had both been driving hybrid Toyota Camrys, which will be passed along to other district employees driving non-hybrids. Between the two, they put about 18,000 miles a year on their company cars, so the fuel price differential is expected to be at least $900 a year.

“Both of them are very positive about the Leaf,” Kanakis said. “They are really enjoying their cars, and I have heard no negatives.”

Brooks lives in the Wild Ridge subdivision, a steep uphill climb from Avon. She has reported no difficulties with the steep grade, and can gain some battery recharge on the downhill trip by using the regenerative braking common on electric vehicles.

The purchase also moves the district forward on its sustainability plan, Kanakis said. He is making plans to purchase another electric vehicle in 2018.

Kanakis also won a grant from the Charge Ahead Colorado program to install a two-plug Level 2 EV charger at the district’s Vail facility. He also installed a one-plug charger at the Avon field office.

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