More Steamboat residents opt for plug-in vehicles |

More Steamboat residents opt for plug-in vehicles

Suzie Romig
For Steamboat Pilot & Today
Routt County resident Mariana Ishida will show her family’s 2017 all-electric Chevy Bolt, which has a 238-mile range when fully charged, during the EV Ride-n-Drive from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Saturday in the parking lot at Howelsen Hill's Olympian Hall.
Courtesy photo

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Driving for the first time in their all-electric Tesla during winter from Fort Collins to their new home in Steamboat Springs, Brad and Libby Christensen read 20 degrees below zero on the thermometer passing through Walden. Yet when they arrived in Steamboat, their electric SUV still had 15-percent vehicle charge to spare.

More local families, including Libby, whose job is to educate about family consumer science for CSU Routt County Extension Service, are driving or considering buying all electric-drive or plug-in hybrid electric vehicles.

According to state vehicle registration records through April, Routt County is home to 24 electric vehicles and 132 electric/gasoline hybrid vehicles. Colorado currently is home to 8,043 electric vehicles and more than 600 EV charging stations.

The most common question Brad receives is how does the family’s electric vehicle handle in the snow.

“Great. It has a low center of gravity,” Brad said. “It’s fun to drive and has great traction. We put snow tires on in the winter.”

The couple installed a $500 Tesla home charger in their garage and plug in one or two nights a week to gain 40 miles of drive time per hour of charging. Their Subaru Outback mostly sits unused in the driveway, Brad said.

This summer, when they drive to Fort Collins to visit family, they usually start at 90-percent vehicle charge and arrive with 40 percent remaining.

The scholarly couple, both with Ph.D.s in geography, like the high-end features on the Tesla X, like the three clearance modes of low, standard and high, but said there is a practical side to their choice.

“The best thing about the car is we come home in the afternoon, plug it in, and it’s ready to go in the morning,” Brad said. “It’s effortless now. We don’t go to the gas station to fill up. It’s so convenient.”

Community members will be able to check out some of the latest electric and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles during the 2018 EV Ride-n-Drive on Saturdaym June 30. The event is sponsored by the nonprofit Yampa Valley Sustainability Council.

Vehicles will include an all-electric 238-mile range Chevy Bolt, a plug-in hybrid electric Chevy Volt, Tesla Model X SUV, 2018 plug-in hybrid Prius Prime and four brands of electric bicycles and mountain bikes made by Specialized, QuietKat, Pedego and Bullitt.

The event will include some short test drives for licensed drivers during the downtown Farmers Market from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Saturday in Steamboat Springs. Some of the vehicles will be on display for show-n-tell only from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. Saturday in the Olympian Hall parking lot before the free concert.

Steamboat Ski Resort, which installed a public EV charging station in the Gondola Square parking garage, will show one of their two all-electric Polaris Ranger vehicles.

“It’s a very versatile vehicle that we use from hauling trash, tools, mulch, plants, supplies to the Taco Beast and many more jobs,” said Audrey Williams, engineering director at the resort. “We plug it in at night, and it can go all day.”

Steamboat Springs is home to seven EV charging stations, with locations found at, including public access charging at City Hall, Colorado Mountain College and the Sheraton. Alpine Bank on Pine Grove Road recently completed a grant request to the Colorado Energy Office to install a public charger, and additional grant funding could lead to fast charging public stations by 2019 at Kum & Go stations in Steamboat Springs and Craig.

Educators from the nonprofit Northern Colorado Clean Cities coalition — under the umbrella of U.S. Department of Energy’s Vehicle Technologies Office — will also be on hand Saturday to answer questions about purchasing incentives for individuals and fleet managers for lower polluting and new technology vehicles.

Owners of other models of all-electric and plug-in vehicles are encouraged to help with this public education event. Visit for more information.

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