Drive Electric NoCo held electric vehicle promotion with City

Serena Bettis

The cars may be quiet, but Drive Electric Northern Colorado’s excitement for them is not.

DENC co-hosted its fourth annual Electric Vehicle Ride and Drive event with the City of Fort Collins on Sept. 15 at Civic Center Park to kick off National Drive Electric Week. The event featured multiple local organizations dedicated to zero-emission vehicles, including Lightning Systems and Northern Colorado Clean Cities. 

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“(It) was a great success, with over 100 excited and engaged attendees who were keen to test out the featured EV models,” wrote Amanda Mansfield, co-chair on the City of Fort Collins Transportation Subcommittee in an email to The Collegian.

parked car
The City of Fort Collins hosted the Ride and Drive event for electric cars Sept. 15 at Civic Center Park. (Nathan Tran | Collegian)

Northern Colorado Clean Cities and DENC welcomed participants to view electric engines of multiple vehicles including the Nissan Leaf, Tesla Model 3, Toyota RAV4 EV and many more.

Anyone over the age of 18 could test drive an electric vehicle and learn about the pros and cons of owning one themselves.

Mansfield said attendees asked many questions about City and partner organization-led electric vehicle, electric vehicle charger, solar and utility efficiency programs.

“Fort Collins and communities across the world should care about electric vehicles … because we are in a climate crisis and are seeing catastrophic environmental, economic and public health impacts as a result,” Mansfield said. “The City is doing a lot to support current and future EV adoption in our community.”

A prominent purpose of the event was to advertise the City’s electric vehicle group-buy discounts, which are available through Sept. 30.

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The goal for the Ride and Drive event in Fort Collins was to educate the public about the benefits of switching to electric cars. (Nathan Tran | Collegian)

The group-buy discounts are pre-negotiated prices organized by DENC that consumers can receive when purchasing an electric vehicle at the local Tynan’s Nissan and Co.’s BMW dealerships.

Through a combination of federal and state tax credits and dealership discounts, the group-buy discount can save consumers $5,000 to $15,000, according to DENC’s website.

According to a 2017 media release from DENC, the rate of electric vehicle purchases in Northern Colorado was found to be approximately three times higher than the national average.

The biggest thing is to get people understanding that this technology exists today, it’s not something that they have to wait for. There’s money available to help ease the transition to these vehicles.”-Charlie Beckman, Lightning Systems Sales Manager

Present at the event was the Loveland-based company Lightning Systems.

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Lightning Systems gears its product towards businesses that use fleets of medium and heavy-duty vehicles, aiming to both reduce carbon emissions and increase vehicle efficiency. This is achieved by removing gasoline and diesel engines from existing vehicles and replacing them with all-electric powertrains, according to the company’s website.

In addition to working with local businesses, Lighting Systems also markets to local transit systems.

car interior
Electric car owners were invited to showcase their cars at the Ride and Drive event on Sept. 15. (Nathan Tran | Collegian)

Charlie Beckman, the sales manager at Lightning Systems, said it is much more cost-effective and beneficial to the environment when old city buses are repurposed with electric engines as opposed to being replaced.

“We can see today the impact carbon emissions is having around the world,” Beckman said. “Maybe you go for a hike and you can see Denver, and you can see the smog settling over Denver. It’d be great to remove that as quickly as possible.”

The City of Fort Collins plans to provide ongoing electric vehicle education and access with events similar to this in accordance with the Electric Vehicle Readiness Roadmap, adopted in fall 2018. 

Beckman said what’s most important is that people are aware of electric vehicles.

“The biggest thing is to get people understanding that this technology exists today, it’s not something that they have to wait for,” Beckman said. “There’s money available to help ease the transition to these vehicles.”

Similarly, Mansfield said there’s no need to be concerned about switching to an electric vehicle for now. 

“With ever-expanding operating ranges, the ability to charge at home at minimal cost and with the public and private sector building out their EV charger station networks, range anxiety need not be a deterrent,” Mansfield said. 

Serena Bettis can be reached at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @serenaroseb