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Incentives help businesses move to electric fleets

The delivery portion of liquor sales at Molly’s Spirits in Lakeside and Greenwood Village has increased from 10% to 33% during the pandemic, so CEO Rufus Nagel decided to add a Tesla to the store’s largely electric vehicle delivery fleet.

In May, a Tesla Y hatchback joined Molly’s EV inventory of 16 Nissan Leaf hatchbacks powered at 24 EV charging ports at the two stores. Informed by his professional background in high-tech and physics, Nagel opted for EVs for delivery vehicles starting in 2014, and he said the newer Nissan Leaf with a 226-mile range makes even more business and environmental sense.

With lower maintenance costs due to fewer moving parts, no oil changes and no gas station stops, EVs make it possible for a small business to own a larger fleet with reduced service hassles, Nagel noted.

EV enthusiasm at Molly’s is the type of commitment the broad-based Colorado Electric Vehicle Coalition is looking for to help move the needle on ambitious new EV advancement campaigns. In April, the City of Denver and the Colorado Energy Office both released comprehensive EV plans.

The Denver Electric Vehicle Action Plan supports Denver’s climate goals of 80% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. Current EV goals aim for increases to 15% electric for Denver vehicle registrations by 2025 and 30% by 2030.

Example actions within the Colorado Electric Vehicle Plan 2020 include adding 1,000 EV buses for public transportation in Colorado by 2030 and working to transition more medium- and heavy-duty vehicles to zero-emission models. As part of educational efforts, a new public dashboard shows how many and what makes of EVs are registered in each Colorado county.

EV growth in Colorado continues to be fueled by state and federal tax incentives for vehicles and the popular Charge Ahead Colorado program that has awarded grants for 1,000 charging-station installations since 2013. The companion ReCharge Colorado program offers free EV coaching services across the state.

The Regional Air Quality Council offers grants to cover 80% of differential costs for leasing EVs instead of comparable gasoline vehicles within the higher air pollution counties of Adams, Arapahoe, Boulder, Broomfield, Denver, Douglas and Jefferson.

A new Xcel Energy EV Supply Infrastructure Program that kicked off in March provides additional support for commercial customers with fleets or that offer public or customer charging.

Bonnie Trowbridge, Denver Metro Clean Cities Coalition executive director, said business advantages to installing EV chargers include providing a benefit and recruiting tool for employees, putting business sustainability goals into action and offering an enticement to keep customers at stores longer to purchase more.

“Customers will come because of the charger and stay longer,” said Tesla-owner Trowbridge, who shops at a Whole Foods Market with an EV charger.