Electric ride and drive generates buzz in Rifle
RIFLE — The city was buzzing with activity Thursday as people took advantage of the chance to test drive and learn more about several models of plug-in electric vehicles during the first-ever electric vehicle ride and drive.
The event, which was hosted in the parking lot outside the Rifle Branch Library, was one of 196 taking place around the country as part of National Drive Electric Week — a nationwide effort to increase awareness of the availability and benefits of electric vehicles.
Attendees had the choice between the Chevy Volts from Mountain Chevrolet and the Ford C-Max Energi from Glenwood Springs Ford. There are a number of benefits to electric vehicles and hybrids, said Matt Shmigelsky, an energy coach with Garfield Clean Energy.
“The state of Colorado has some of the best tax incentives available in the whole U.S.,” Shmigelsky said.
Along with the tax credit, electric vehicles have a cheaper per-mile operating cost — roughly 3 cents per mile compared to 10 cents for a typical gas vehicle, according to Shmigelsky.
That excitement drew Rifle resident Cathy Partain to Thursday’s event. Partain, who currently drives a Jeep, said she is very interested in a hybrid model vehicle, primarily due to the lessened environmental impact.
That is another attractive aspect of the electric vehicle, said Zac Sutherland, an environmental health specialist with Garfield County Public Health.
“When a car is running in electric mode it doesn’t have any tailpipe emissions whatsoever,” Sutherland said. “When you look at an internal combustion engine you have volatile organic compounds coming out, you have a carbon dioxide problem and all these different carcinogens that come out with car exhaust.”
That was enough for Rifle resident Tricia Cleis, who took a test drive of the Chevy Volt.
“I am a total fan,” she said. “I’m really excited about the new electric cars and it’s just the way we have to go … and I’m impressed with the Volt that I rode in … where do I sign?”
The event was hosted Garfield Clean Energy, the city of Rifle, Garfield County Environmental Health, the Rifle Area Chamber of Commerce and the Rifle Branch Library. Sponsors are Mountain Chevrolet and Glenwood Springs Ford.
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Colorado Highway 139 is closed between mile markers 12 to 39 both directions, Douglas Pass, due to a wildfire. The fire is putting off a lot of smoke, decreasing visibility.