Nonprofit group’s ‘REV Up Your Ride’ sales promotion nets 42 vehicle sales | VailDaily.com

Nonprofit group’s ‘REV Up Your Ride’ sales promotion nets 42 vehicle sales

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Walking Mountains Science Center staffers Rachel Zacher, left, and Lara Carlson show off the center's new all-electric Nissan Leaf, purchased through the three-county 2017 Electric Vehicle Sales Event. Zacher is the summer camp coordinator and Carlson is the community programs director for Walking Mountains Science Center, based in Avon.

EAGLE COUNTY — The Electric Vehicle Sales Event, a 90-day promotion in Garfield, Eagle and Pitkin counties, resulted in sales of 42 electric vehicles and installation of 20 new vehicle charging stations, according to EV Sales Event organizer Matt Shmigelsky of Clean Energy Economy for the Region.

"Auto dealers in Glenwood Springs, Boulder and Loveland offered special discounts on their EVs for this 'REV Up Your Ride' promotion, and definitely got positive results," Shmigelsky said.

The group managed the EV Sales Event with support from 12 partners: the Colorado Energy Office and its Refuel Colorado Fleets program, Garfield Clean Energy, CORE, Glenwood Springs, Aspen, Snowmass Village, Avon, Vail, Eagle County, Holy Cross Energy, Walking Mountains Science Center and Garfield County Environmental Health.

Event sponsors united on two shared goals: increasing market share of electric vehicles and installing public charging in more locations.

From April 1 to June 30, the sponsors hosted eight public EV ride and drive events to introduce drivers to electric vehicles, and used newspaper and radio advertising to promote the dealer discounts.

"The EV sales event was a great opportunity to raise awareness of battery electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles as a viable option for commuting and travel in the mountains," said Mark Hoblitzell, Vail's environmental sustainability coordinator.

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Tallies provided by the four participating auto dealers showed sales of six Audi A3 e-trons by Audi Glenwood Springs, seven Nissan Leafs by Boulder Nissan, 13 BMW i3 and X5 models by Co's BMW Center of Loveland, and 16 Chevrolet Volts and Bolts by Mountain Chevrolet in Glenwood Springs.

Nigel Zeid, a salesman with Boulder Nissan, said, "This really was a marvelous program, organized by a passionate group of people, that educated many others about the advantages of electric vehicles. We were honored to be part of it."

State and federal tax credits for electric vehicles also help reduce the cost of EVs, and remain in effect for EV buyers even though the sales event has concluded.

Holy Cross Energy customers in the three counties who bought an EV through the sales event enjoyed an extra incentive, a $200 utility bill refund that covers the cost of charging for 6,000 miles of driving. To date, eight customers have taken advantage of the offer, and refund applications are being accepted through September.

Boulder Nissan is continuing to offer a $10,000 discount on 2017 models of the Nissan Leaf for Garfield, Eagle and Pitkin County buyers, while supplies last, Zeid said.

Charging stations to increase

Public EV charging, seen as essential for curing the "range anxiety" associated with battery-only EVs, also took a big jump, nearly doubling in the three counties this year, Shmigelsky said.

"Between the 20 new electric vehicle charge stations installed this year, and another nine in the works for later this year, we will see an 85 percent increase in public EV charge stations in the three counties by year-end," Shmigelsky said. Most charge stations have two charge plugs each.

In January, there were 34 public EV charge stations in the three counties: 17 in Garfield County, eight in Eagle and nine in Pitkin.

Between the 20 stations installed so far this year and nine more stations expected this fall, that total will grow to 63 stations in the three counties by year-end: 26 in Garfield County, 18 in Eagle and 19 in Pitkin.

The Colorado Energy Office is working to increase charge stations statewide through its Charge Ahead grant program, which pays for up to 80 percent of installation costs. Grant funds come from the annual vehicle registration fee paid by EV owners.

The next step in public charging is Level 3 "fast charge" stations, which can charge an EV for up to 200 miles of range per hour. Most public charge stations in the three-county region are Level 2, which take several hours to deliver a full charge.

Aspen opened its third public EV fast charge station in June, at the corner of Galena and Dean.

Vail is looking to follow suit. Hoblitzell said the town is working to find the best locations for new fast charge stations, and making sure any future facility updates include enough electrical capacity to support fast charging.

"I think we will see continued sales of electric vehicles," Hoblitzell said. "I see more all the time."