State rolls out first fully electric Bolts

Electric cars at the State Capitol

SAINT PAUL, Minn. -- The first fully electric Chevrolet Bolts introduced in this region are now part of the State of Minnesota's fleet of vehicles. In fact several government agencies purchased a total 22 of the cars, some of which were on display Thursday at the State Capitol. 

They're rated to go 238 miles between charges under normal driving conditions. That will allow employees to drive to Rochester or Duluth and back without the need to charge.

"Minnesota is the only state in the region that has received any Chevy Bolts to date,"  Commissioner Matt Massman of the Dept. of Administration told KARE.

"We want to be leading by example, to make sure we’re doing our part to reduce the carbon footprint of state government operations."

Commissioner Massman said the State was able to negotiate a good price for the cars, roughly $35,000 a piece. But because they are very low maintenance and don't burn gasoline his department expects to save $5,000 in operating expenses over the life of the Bolts compared to similar vehicles with combustion engines.

He credited Col. Larry Herke, who heads the Office of Enterprise Sustainability, and fleet services director Holly Gustner for working with General Motors to bring the Bolts to Minnesota first. And he said we'll see more of them in government fleets across the state.

"We will have these vehicles available on a state master contract that local units of government and others will be able to purchase off of, and take advantage of this opportunity," Massman added.

The state's fleet of 1,800 vehicles is still predominantly made up of cars and trucks that burn fossil fuels, but 240 of them a gas-electric hybrids.  The new Bolts are the State's first major investment in fully electric.

"One of the unique things about the Chevy Bolt it has an L feature in it, so it’s regenerating," John Scharffbillig, the director of fleet services for the City of Minneapolis, explained as he stood next to one of that city's new Bolts.

"So while the published range is 238 miles with the regeneration factor in L-mode the stop and go will actually help you to recharge it to increase that amount of mileage."

The car's instrument panel includes a real time estimate of the remaining miles, and there's a display that shows whether it's drawing power from the battery or in regeneration mode.

Scharffbillig said another attractive feature of the Bolts is the ability to connect to 110-volt, 220-volt and 440 volt chargers, which is rare for a vehicle in that price range.

The University of Minnesota is also had some of its new Bolts parked at the Capitol.

"The all-electric vehicle will have many fewer moving parts than an internal combustion engine, so the maintenance requirements on them are significantly less," Ross Allanson, the U of M's director of transportation and parking services, said.

"And that 238 mile distance will allow our campus community to be able to drive without that range anxiety."

Range anxiety?  It's the fear of getting stranded between charging stations.

Scharffbillig said it will be a learning curve for those employees driving fully electric cars for the first time.

"It’s going to be a learning experience. They’re used to thinking 'I can run to the gas station, fill up and go.' They’re going to need to figure out, 'Okay, this is how far I can go, and then I need to recharge'." 

© 2017 KARE-TV


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