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Minnesota’s first winter Ride and Drive event to take place at Ely Winter Festival

by Parker Loew

Drive Electric Minnesota and the Clean Energy Resource Teams, in partnership with CURE, are hosting Minnesota’s first winter ride and drive during the Ely Winter Festival.

The event will take place on Feb. 3 from 1:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the Ely DQ Grill and Chill and is a testament to how accommodating Ely has become to electric vehicle owners.

Chargers have been installed at the library and the Wolf Center, as well as six new chargers installed at the DQ, where the event is hosted.

“The city, local businesses and organizations have started recognizing the need for this sort of thing,” said event planner and electric car enthusiast/owner Hudson Kingston. “It’s slowly bubbling up as a new thing, providing people with electric cars a way to visit Ely and frequent local businesses while charging their cars.”

Kingston said it takes an average of a few hours to charge today’s electric vehicles, so any business that installs chargers in their parking lot has an opportunity to have loyal customers become even more loyal because that’s where they park their car.

Vehicles at the event will likely include a Ford Mustang Mach-E, Ford F-150 Lightning, Jeep Wrangler/Cherokee, Tesla Model X and Tesla Model Y.

“It’s a great opportunity for people in the Ely area to come out and see how the new electric cars work in the cold and snow,” said Kingston.

There has been a lot of skepticism in years past on how electric cars handle Minnesota’s harsh winter.

Organizers such as Kingston hope the event can shed light on the reality of owning an electric car in Minnesota.

“Electric cars do lose range in the cold, but so do gas-powered vehicles,” said Kingston. “Most people are not driving the full extent of their gas tank every day. For people who drive around 60 miles a day, an electric car may be a good option, even in the winter.”

Most of the vehicles at the event are being supplied by Lundgren Ford and Rogers Tesla and will be available to test drive.

Some local electric vehicle owners will also be at the event giving rides in their electric vehicles, such as Treehouse Broadband owner Isaac Olson and his Rivian R1T pickup truck he bought last year for his business.

“My brother Elijah will be at the event giving people rides. It’s ended up being a great all-around vehicle,” said Olson. “It can tow 11,000 pounds, is great off-road, and has a bunch of storage space for all our tools and everything.”

Olson said while he has run into a few bugs with the software, the Rivian has never left him, his family, or his employees stranded.

Olson said on super cold days, he has seen a reduction in the range of the Rivian.

“I would say the worst possible case, you’d be looking at a 50% reduction in your range,” said Olson. “That does equate to having to charge more for those few weeks out of the winter when it’s sub-zero temperatures.”

Along with being educational and informative, the event should also be fun for those who attend.

“We don’t want anyone to drive dangerously, but electric cars have great acceleration,” said Kingston.

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