Rose and Jim Bitter of Eden Prairie think their next vehicle might be a fuel-efficient, plug-in hybrid, and it’s not just about saving money on gas.
“I want to do it for our children, our grandchildren,” said Rose, alluding to the global push to reduce fossil-fuel emissions to avoid climate changes that could be disastrous.
“This is the right thing to do,” she added.
The Bitters were among people attending Monday evening’s Electric Vehicle Ride and Drive Event, organized by the City of Eden Prairie’s Sustainability Commission to encourage the adoption of electric vehicles (EVs).
People attending the event at Staring Lake Park could look under the hoods of numerous models of electric vehicles and even take a test drive. Nearby, Xcel Energy had information about EV-charging stations that can be added to one’s home.
The city will need more people like the Bitters if it hopes to accomplish the ambitious goals of its Climate Action Plan, adopted in 2020 with an eye toward achieving communitywide carbon neutrality within 30 years. By 2050, the city wants all vehicles being driven within Eden Prairie to be electric, which outpaces what could be achieved through current vehicle-replacement rates.
The plan’s interim goals are: by 2030, have 30% of all passenger vehicles driving within Eden Prairie be electric; 50% by 2040. The plan’s goals for light and heavy trucks show slower progress over the next decade – 15% electric by 2030 – but still 100% by 2050.
A FIRSTHAND LOOK AT ELECTRIC VEHICLES
The first-time Electric Vehicle Ride and Drive Event is one of the many ways the city and its commission hope to accelerate the local conversion from gas-powered vehicles to EVs.
Other parts of the plan call for the city to build and encourage more EV charging stations and to support clean car rules requiring manufacturers to offer more electric vehicles for consumers.
The Sept. 19 event at Staring Lake Park leaned heavily on encouraging people to see, touch, and even drive the new-technology vehicles as well as connect with people who already own one.
“We want people to experience electric vehicles in a low-pressure environment,” explained Jennifer Hassebroek, the city’s sustainability coordinator.
A car dealer provided a Chevrolet Bolt to test drive, and the city had a couple of its own EV passenger vehicles for people to sit in and drive. (But, you weren’t allowed to drive the city’s Tesla police squad car, nor the EV Ford Mustang still being outfitted for patrol.)
People could also see and test ride electric bicycles brought to the event by retailers.
Peter Thompson and his family were at the event. They own a 2017 Nissan Leaf EV, but are likely moving from two family cars to one, and their existing EV’s 90-mile range on a charge is shorter than they’d like.
“We love our Leaf,” he said, and so they thought they’d test drive some of the newer models at Monday’s event.
The distance one can drive an EV before needing to recharge it was one of the common concerns voiced Monday. Jim Bitter called it “range anxiety.”
Denny Christianson was one of those test-driving a city-owned EV. His wife, Julie, said he’s the type to study and analyze things well before a purchase. Denny said he wanted to see different brands of EVs, talk to their owners about how far you can drive on a charge, and learn about people’s experiences owning them.
“I have two relatively new vehicles, so I’m not really in the market” to buy an EV vehicle, said Denny. “But I can see it’s coming.”
He walked away impressed by electric vehicles.
That’s another good sign for the Sustainability Commission and its push for more EVs on Eden Prairie streets and highways.