Climate Change-California

This AP file photo photo shows an electric Fiat plugged into a charging station. 

Colorado Springs residents can now save thousands of dollars on electric vehicles thanks in part to a deal between the city and local Nissan dealers.

“We’ve seen a trend in our citizens adopting electric vehicles, and we want to help incentivize that and the environmental benefits that go along with it via savings,” said the city’s innovation and sustainability manager, Ryan Trujillo.

The $3,000 discount, offered by Nissan dealerships in the city for 2018 Nissan LEAFs, is on top of the $7,500 federal and $5,000 state tax credits offered to people who buy any electric vehicle through September.

That means for as little as $17,490, a Colorado Springs resident can have a brand new, 151-mile range electric vehicle.

Other municipalities had helped to facilitate similar discounts throughout the past couple of years. Boulder County was particularly successful with the program in 2015 and 2016, during which 289 electric vehicles from two Nissan and one BMW dealership were sold. For a 2016 Nissan LEAF, customers were able to save a total of $22,000 off the $39,390 sticker price.

Brad Smith, Boulder County’s sustainability outreach and education specialist, said the program was one of the most cost-effective measures the city could employ to promote electric vehicles, since the only tax dollars at work was to market the program. For every $1 spent, Boulder County saw $795 in community benefit.

“That ratio is absurd,” he said. “So it was amazing to watch the proliferation of electric vehicles here during the first two years of the program.”

Smith said dealerships which did not participate in the program also saw an increase in demand for electric vehicles.

Boulder County stopped pursuing the partnerships after Xcel Energy Colorado announced it would facilitate its own deal for 2018 Nissan LEAFs. Since the spring, Xcel Energy customers have been eligible for the extra $3,000 discount through Sept. 30.

The Xcel Energy deal also replaced a 2016 program for Denver, Aurora County and Adams County residents that offered Nissan LEAFs at an extra $8,000 off the sticker price.

Colorado Springs is also hoping to accelerate the electrification of its transportation sector through three grants that would replace 18 of the diesel-fueled Mountain Metropolitan Transit city buses by 2022. Craig Blewitt, Mountain Metropolitan Transit Services manager, said the decision was to help decrease maintenance and operation costs and to reduce tailpipe emissions from the city’s fleet.

“We think that electric buses are now a great fit for us,” Blewitt said. “We wanted to make sure that they had been proven to be reliable and were performing as advertised in other cities. As we are seeing that demonstrated across the country, we feel more confident about the investment.”

Mountain Metropolitan Transit will hear back about the first of the three grants — the Lo-No grant offered through the Federal Transit Administration — in the fall. If awarded the money, the city will have six new electric buses and the necessary charging equipment by 2020.

Twitter: @lizmforster

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