The Energy Blend: Northwest Colorado missing out on electric vehicle sales and service | CraigDailyPress.com

The Energy Blend: Northwest Colorado missing out on electric vehicle sales and service

Colorado is now ranked the friendliest place to purchase electric vehicles due to thousands of dollars in state and federal incentives

Jeff Troeger of Steamboat Springs proudly showed off his all-electric Nissan Leaf in 2013, four years after purchase the only maintenance has been putting on/off snow tires.

— Colorado is considered the best place to buy an electric vehicle due to state and federal incentives that see thousands of dollars in discounts and tax credits, yet Northwest consumers have few local options for buying or leasing electric vehicles.

"The incentives for buying an EV in Colorado are the most generous in the nation. Right now, you can qualify for up to $13,500 in state and federal tax credits. But as EVs inevitably gain popularity, the incentives will go away," the Colorado Department of Energy Charge Ahead website said.

At least two plug-in, all electric smart cars zip around the streets of Craig, but one of the first electric vehicle owners in the Yampa Valley was Jeff Troeger. The retired Colorado Mountain College professor of business and economics leased his first plug-in electric vehicle four years ago for about the same cost as a family cell phone bill plus an extra $11 per month added to his electric bill that pays for about 25 miles of driving per day.

"Local dealers didn’t have what I wanted, the all-electric LEAF, so I leased one from a Greeley dealer that shipped the car to me free," Troeger said. "That’s a common problem. Most car dealers don’t know much about EVs."

Four years later it's still difficult to buy plug-in electric vehicles in the Yampa Valley even though it's getting easier to find public charging stations with at least one in the towns of Kremmling, Steamboat Springs, Rifle and Glenwood Springs, as listed on the Alternative Fuels Data Center station locator map.

"At this point we don't have the trained techs for electric vehicles for the amount we may or may not sell, it's not worth it to train techs," said John Knoche sales manager at Cook Chevy in Craig. "We don't sell Corvettes either. Subaru hybrids are sold in Steamboat."

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Subaru makes the Crosstreck Hybrid that offers high fuel efficiency and low emissions, all-wheel drive while delivering 30-34 combined miles per gallon, the Subaru Crosstreck website said.

Victory Motor sells the Chrysler Pacifica mini-van. The first hybrid in its class, it seamlessly transitions between full hybrid mode and gas for up to 80 combined miles per gallon, a 30 mile electric driving range and a 530 mile gas and electric driving range, says the Chrysler Pacifica website.

"We don't have one on the lot," said Sean Murphy internet sales Manager at Victory Motors in Craig. "We can special order, electric vehicles and hybrids. And we can also provide service."

"Once you’ve owned an EV, there’s no going back to an internal combustion engine," said Troeger who is planning to replace his LEAF with the 238 mile range Chevy Bolt and his Subaru with an all wheel drive Tesla so that all his cars will be electric.

For those wanting to see, test-drive, learn more and take advantage of Colorado's incentives to lease or buy an EV, the closest dealers to Craig, with cars in stock are located in Glenwood Springs at Mountain Chevrolet and Glenwood Springs Ford.

Contact Sasha Nelson at 970-875-1794 or snelson@CraigDailyPress.com or follow her on Twitter @CDP_Education.