Electric Vehicles of all sizes, from e bikes to e busses, are going to become a dominant source of transportation over the course of the next two decades. Recent laws passed in California will forbid car manufacturers from selling Internal Combustion Engine or ICE vehicles in the state by 2030. These means vehicle manufacturers in the US and abroad are ramping up their efforts to electrify the fleet of vehicles that they offer.
At the Detroit Auto Show on September 14-18, Chevrolet unveiled 3 new models of EV’s they plan to bring to market in the next few years. Vehicles include an all-electric Silverado pickup truck and an all-electric Blazer SUV. But the most compelling vehicle unveiled was the all-new 2024 Equinox EV. Chevrolet predicts that the vehicle will have around 300 miles of range and prices will start around $30,000. However, with state and federal tax credits, the starting price drops below $25,000. This will be the first time an EV of this price bracket will be available for sale in the US. Chevrolet predicts that it will be the best selling EV SUV in America.
In Morris, we have already begun preparing for a future where more and more people will be relying on electric vehicles. The city of Morris purchased a plug-in hybrid Chevy Volt which gets 50 miles of all electric range and 370 miles in the gas tank for a total range of more than 420 miles. This means that whenever we have to drive somewhere in Morris or Stevens County, we are relying solely on the EV function of the car. UMN Morris has purchased several plug in hybrids and electric vehicles for their fleet.
UMN Morris and the RFC also have an e bike program, where community members can rent the electric bikes. E-Bikes are a great transportation alternative to cars, especially in a town like Morris where everything is within biking distance. Most electric bikes have an electric range of 15-20 miles that would require little to no pedaling, making them an ideal and street legal option for alternative transportation. And since it is a bike, even if the battery runs out you won’t even be stranded.
The research farm at the WCROC also uses to electric UTV vehicles to aid in farm work and moving cattle from pasture to pasture. They are also in the process of developing an electric autonomous lawn mower that can be used to manage land without the needing an operator. The Morris Area Schools also received 2 fully electric school busses which each have around 100 miles of range, more than enough to get students to and from school. These busses are equipped with heaters that run on diesel fuel. This helps to save energy from the battery in the winter time so that bus can go further. So if you see one stopping at a gas station, do not be alarmed.
Morris is also in the process of getting a brand new Electric Bus that will become a part of the Morris Transit Fleet. The bus, which will look identical to our current busses, has a range of up to 100 miles, but with added electrical loads such as cabin ventilation and heating/cooling it will have an ‘real-world’ range of around 60-70 miles, which is more than enough serve the Morris area. The bus, which is a part of a much larger transit upgrade, is being funded through state and federal grants. Along with the bus, Morris will also receive a level 3 50 kW fast charging station which will be capable of adding 40-50 miles in only an hour of charging. This will allow the bus to be used similarly to how current gas powered busses are.
The city is excited to continue to expand our electric vehicle fleet and we are excited to see more and more citizens using electric vehicles of all shapes and sizes.