March 13, 2020 – Once a rare sight on Colorado’s roads, electric vehicles (EVs) are gaining market share at an accelerating rate. And now there’s an expanded push to get car buyers across our region to go electric.
The Western Slope Electric Vehicle Sales EVent is a three-month promotion at seven Glenwood Springs and Grand Junction auto dealerships, with discounts of up to $11,000 on certain models. The promotion starts on Monday, March 16.
Carbondale-based Clean Energy Economy for the Region (CLEER) is organizing the campaign, with funding from the Colorado Energy Office. They’ve negotiated discounts with local dealers, who in turn hope to make it up in volume.
Participating dealers are Mountain Chevrolet, Audi Glenwood Springs and Phil Long Honda in Glenwood Springs, and Ed Bozarth Chevrolet-Buick, Red Rock Nissan and Grand West Kia in Grand Junction. In addition, SunRabbit Clean Transport in Grand Junction is offering deals on pre-owned EVs.
Some of the incentives being offered are considerable, thanks to a combination of manufacturer discounts and the negotiated local discounts.
For example, Chevy Bolts are up to $11,250 off, and Audi e-trons are $9,000 off. Other discounts include $3,500-4,500 on the Nissan Leaf, $3,000 on the Kia Niro, $500 on the Honda Clarity, and 10 percent off used EVs at SunRabbit. Tax credits on new EVs further reduce the cost.
This is actually the fourth Electric Vehicle Sales EVent, but it’s the first one to include Grand Junction dealers. Joining CLEER in promoting it are Garfield Clean Energy, the Aspen-based Community Office for Resource Efficiency (CORE) and Walking Mountains Sustainability in Avon.
To get consumers to start kicking some EV tires, the groups are taking what they call the Experience Electric Road Show around the region. The first of these free “ride and drive” events and informational presentations was held in Grand Junction on March 9. Others are scheduled for later in the spring, as public health precautions allow.
The Electric Vehicle Sales Event is sponsored by Holy Cross Energy, Xcel Energy, Grand Valley Power, Gunnison County Electric Association, Alpine Bank, SunRabbit Clean Transport, High Noon Solar, City of Glenwood Springs, City of Aspen, Town of Vail, Town of Avon, Eagle County and the Post Independent.
Additional background on electric vehicles
Not only do electric vehicles qualify for tax breaks and discounts, they’re also much less costly to operate. The electricity equivalent of a gallon of gasoline costs about $1.10 per “e-gallon.” All-electric vehicles save on many maintenance costs, since they have fewer moving parts and don’t need oil changes.
For many, the strongest selling point of EVs is their lower environmental impact.
“Using electricity instead of gasoline for driving reduces carbon emissions,” notes Stefan Johnson, CLEER’s transportation program coordinator. “Electricity in Colorado’s statewide average power mix is 36 percent cleaner than gasoline. As more renewable energy is added to the grid, electric vehicles will be even cleaner.”
Electric vehicles also support Colorado jobs and industry, as they shift the transportation fuel market away from oil and toward electricity, a domestic energy source. That supports Colorado electric utilities and their fuel providers.
About 20,000 EVs are registered in Colorado, and sales are growing by 50-60 percent per year, according to the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers. In 2019 the state adopted a modified version of California’s zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) standard, which is expected to incentivize manufacturers to sell more EVs in Colorado.
Meanwhile, a network of new fast-charge stations is rapidly coming on line across Colorado and in many other states, making it easier to travel long distances in an EV.