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Electric vehicles amass at fairgrounds for National Drive Electric Week

4CORE hosted about 20 electric cars and their owners Saturday celebrating National Drive Electric Week at the La Plata County Fairgrounds. The event offered a chance for the public to ask car owners about what it’s like to own an EV car and be able sit inside them. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald)
One-day event lets potential buyers talk to current owners

People interested in electric vehicles met with current owners midday Saturday at the La Plata County Fairgrounds during an event for National Drive Electric Week.

“It’s to help educate and provide information about electric vehicles,” said Laurie Dickson, executive director of Four Corners Office for Resource Efficiency, the host of the event. “We had to pivot this year because dealerships don’t have any electric vehicles – any vehicles are hard to get these days. So we invited EV owners to come and share their driving experiences.”

4CORE works to advance the adoption of electric vehicles and EV infrastructure, she said. The organization has been working alongside state program ReCharge Colorado since 2014.

She said the event Saturday was ideal for someone off the street who knows nothing about EVs or is hesitant about buying one.

“If you can talk to somebody who has been driving their car for a couple years, without a sales pitch kind of thing, you have a more objective viewpoint about electric vehicles,” Dickson said.

Laura Haidet, 4CORE’s Clean Energy and Transportation program coordinator, said there was a mix of about 15 makes and models at the event.

“Folks have the opportunity to see them side by side, talk to the owners, sit in them,” she said.

Scott Smith, right, answers questions about his Fiat 500e during the 4CORE’s National Drive Electric Week event at the La Plata County Fairgrounds. The event offered a chance for the public to ask car owners about what it’s like to own an EV car and be able sit inside them. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald)

Rich Farrington was one of the Durangoans showing off an EV on Saturday – in his case, a 2019 Chevrolet Bolt (the fully electric model, not to be confused with the hybrid Chevrolet Volt).

Farrington said got into electric vehicle ownership as part of a plan to fight – or at least not contribute to – climate change. He said his car and home both have a net zero impact.

“We charge this car off of solar panels, so we drive with very clean energy – it truly is net zero for carbon emissions because it’s the sun that’s driving the car,” he said.

The Bolt is Farrington’s first EV – he has owned the car for three years and has put about 22,000 miles on it.

He said he was initially surprised by how powerful and quiet it is, and he thinks it should be very low maintenance thanks to its simplicity.

When people talk to him about the car, it is mainly charging that they worry about, he said. The car takes about four hours to charge at home.

“We’ve driven this from Seattle, Washington, to northern Idaho, we drive back and forth to Denver all the time,” Farrington said. “It takes a little bit more planning, and you can’t be in a big hurry because you do have to stop and charge – so it’s a great retired person’s car.”

He said the Bolt cost him a net total of about $23,000 new, after a deal from the dealership and tax credits from the state and federal governments.

“We kind of wanted to buy one anyway, but it really sealed the deal for us,” Farrington said.

He also emphasized the car’s drivability.

“They’re a lot of fun to drive,” he said. “All of these electric cars, the heaviest part of them is the battery, and the battery is a thin layer underneath the passenger compartment. So that weight has a very low center of gravity so they corner very nicely.”

4CORE hosted about 20 electric cars and their owners on Saturday celebrating National Drive Electric Week at the La Plata County Fairgrounds. The event offered a chance for the public to ask car owners about what it’s like to own an EV car and be able sit inside them. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald)

Dickson said there are currently 276 registered electric vehicles in La Plata County.

“National sales are ever increasing,” she said. “It’s the way people are going to be driving in the future, and the future is now.”

In addition to its other programs, 4CORE helps businesses and municipalities apply for Charge Ahead Colorado grants – money offered three times a year by the state to assist businesses and local governments in installing recharging stations. The organization has assisted with about 40 applications in the Durango area, she said.

ngonzales@durangoherald.com

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