JULY 5, 2019 BY 

A common question asked of Yampa Valley Sustainability Council staff regarding green transportation is, “I can’t afford a Tesla, so is there a more reasonably priced electric SUV?”

That answer is yes. The all-wheel drive crossover Mitsubishi Outlander was introduced in North America in 2018 at a base price of $36,000, not including tax incentives. An Outlander PHEV was one of many plug-in vehicles on display and available for short rides during the YVSC EV Ride-n-Drive on Saturday June 29, where hundreds of people stopped by to ask questions and learn more.

“I’d been waiting for the Outlander to come out (in Colorado) for about five years,” said Fort Collins resident Lee O’Brien of his PHEV Outlander, the number one selling version in Europe. “So far, it’s been a great car, no problems, quiet, comfortable. It does great in the snow and has good traction.”

O’Brien, an ecologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, now commutes 24 miles roundtrip to work in all-electric mode with no tailpipe emissions. The Outlander has 4X4 off-road ability and can use electric or gas power, so O’Brien only fills up the vehicle’s gas tank for long trips and gets 34 mpg.

The state of Colorado has one of the more advantageous tax incentive programs in the country for plug-in vehicles. For example, O’Brien received a state rebate for $5,000 and a federal rebate for $5,000.

Skyline Mitsubishi in Thornton has sold 42 Outlanders so far this year and about 60 last year. Similar plug-in all-wheel drive options include the Hyundai Kona and Kia Niro. At higher price points, Volvo, BMW, Audi and Tesla all have SUV electric options.

Locals can’t motor around Steamboat Springs for a day without seeing a sleek all-electric Tesla. In 2018, Routt County had 24 electric and 132 hybrid electric/gas vehicles registered, according to the Colorado Department of Revenue. Statewide there are 8,500 all-electric vehicles and 65,250 hybrids registered.

The versatile plug-in hybrid electric engines negate any range anxiety, and for all-electric vehicle driving, Colorado is now home to 714 public charging stations, according to the Department of Energy’s Alternative Fuels Data Center (https://afdc.energy.gov/).The forthcoming new charger at Alpine Bank in Steamboat Springs is the ninth “level two” charging station available at public or lodging property locations in Steamboat Springs. Other stations in the area, shown on the website PlugShare.com, include two in Craig, two in Walden, three in Meeker, two in Rangely and one in Kremmling. Business owners in Yampa and Hayden have expressed interest in applying for the state grants for future installs as well.

Other vehicles featured at the free educational EV Ride-n-Drive on June 29 included Tesla 3, Tesla X, Honda Clarity, Chevy Bolt, extended range Leaf Plus, 2019 Leaf, GEM vehicle and four styles of all-terrain all-electric mountain bikes by QuietKat in Eagle.

Anyone wanting to ask questions of locals about plug-in vehicle options can contact suzie@yvsc.org.