At first glance, vehicle No. 100 looks like any other city-owned car. It’s white, not too flashy and has the city seal on each side.
However, it’s special in the way that it’s the first street-legal electric vehicle to be added to the City of Steamboat Springs’ fleet.
Considered an “EUV,” or electric utility vehicle, the five-passenger front-wheel-drive all-electric 2022 Chevrolet Bolt has 200 horsepower and can go 259 miles on a full charge.
“It’s very torquey,” said Jason Weber the city’s fleet superintendent. “I mean, it accelerates very fast.”
Weber said he test drove the car to Craig and back and still had 60% left on the battery.
The car will be used by the city’s planning department, which will be using the vehicle to zip around town performing code inspections among other things.
The new addition to the city’s fleet is all part of the city’s Electric Vehicle Readiness Plan, which is a comprehensive plan to shift the municipality’s and the community’s vehicles toward electric alternatives.
“We need to do that in order to meet our greenhouse gas emission reduction targets,” said Special Projects Manager Winnie DelliQuadri.
DelliQuadri calls the Chevy Bolt a “pilot” because it doubles as a test vehicle for future additions to the fleet, as there is still a lot of uncertainty of the current feasibility of an all-electric fleet including maintenance costs, charging station availability, and the vehicles’ capabilities to withstand the needs of their respective departments.
To help keep the Chevy Bolt charged, two new charging ports were installed behind the Centennial Hall building on 10th street, which offers a port available to the public as well.
According to Atlas Public Policy, there are 195 electric vehicles registered in Routt County, though there are certainly more than that on the road at any given time. There are 12 public charging stations in Steamboat Springs. The only charging station in Routt County outside of Steamboat is in Yampa, where two ports are available.
The Chevy Bolt replaces a 2001 Dodge Durango that was reaching the end of its lifespan, and as more vehicles in the city’s fleet wear out over time, it’s expected more and more will be replaced by electric vehicles.
“We don’t want to prematurely replace something, because that’s not fiscally efficient,” said DelliQuadri. “But as vehicles are ready to be replaced, our fleet department looks at whether or not there is an electric alternative.”
Weber and his department are interested in finding electric alternatives for practically every gas-powered machine in their fleet, so long as the technology is practical, affordable and functional.
“If you can lessen your greenhouse emissions, it makes sense,” said Weber. “So it’s those kinds of things that are just interesting to me to be able to look at.”
The city is entertaining the idea of adding all-electric street sweepers to the fleet, or possibly a gas-electric hybrid bucket truck that would use a diesel internal combustion engine to move the truck but utilizes an electric battery powered hydraulic lift to control the bucket .
Weber said the city is interested in converting its fleet of police cars to electric vehicles over time but said they would need to be four-wheel drive. He also said the city is interested in electric snowplows, but currently there isn’t a sufficient electric model on the market.
Steamboat Springs Transit has a long tradition of using diesel or electric hybrid buses, and the Parks and Recreation department recently added two Toro Workman GTX utility vehicles.
The city plans on hosting an EV Ride & Drive event on Sept. 18.
To reach Spencer Powell, call 970-871-4229 or email him at spowell@SteamboatPilot.com