Eden Prairie

Alejandro's EV adventures, episode one

October 2022

Community members from throughout Eden Prairie gathered at Starring Lake Park for their city’s first ever electric vehicle (EV) ride and drive event. As a new AmeriCorps member serving at the Great Plains Institute supporting Drive Electric MN, I knew that this event would provide me with valuable hands-on experience, information, and interactions that could give me a realistic idea of what it’s like to drive an EV.

This ride and drive event brought together representatives from all across the EV space: EV owners, businesses, dealerships, and more to give people a glimpse at how EVs could fit into both their lives and their community.

Upon arriving, my first move was to check out the vehicles brought by local EV owners.

On display in the parking lot were all kinds of EVs; from crossovers like the Volkswagen ID4, to SUVs like the plug-in hybrid Jeep 4xe, and even newer models like the Rivian R1T truck. Seeing the different types of vehicles and hearing how they worked for people with very different driving habits showed me EVs are a great option for a variety of lifestyles. 

The next EV type for me to check were the electric bikes on display from Erik’s Bike Shop. As I learned about the high mileage and power these bikes possessed, I got to witness people of all ages from children to adults whizzing by with a combination of peddle and battery power. Having personally noticed how E-bike technology and adoption has advanced over the past few years, I can tell they will be an important alternative to cars that will reduce road traffic and vehicle miles traveled.     

Soon after finishing my loop checking out all the EVs, I attended the “Electric Vehicles 101” presentation I helped develop by Metro CERT Coordinator Diana McKeown. The presentation was incredibly informative as it gave people a basic overview of EVs and EV charging, busted EV-myths, and showed what it’s truly like to own and operate one. During the presentation and throughout the Q&A, it was interesting to see how surprised people were to learn that EVs could fit their lifestyle, especially the fact that most EV batteries have several times more mileage than people need daily! 

At the end of the event, Diana and I decided to finally partake in the full ride and drive experience.

Diana, an EV owner for the past several years, test drove a Chevy Bolt as she was considering a switch from her current EV.

While I didn’t do a test drive of my own, I got to sit in and get a feel for the luxury interior of the Ford Mach-e muscle car.  

“We put the event together because we knew there is a strong interest in EVs in Eden Prairie, and because we wanted people to be able to experience them outside a dealership setting. All but one of the display vehicles were owned by Eden Prairie residents, so it really was a community conversation about their experiences with driving an EV.”

Jennifer Fierce, Eden Prairie Ride and Drive organizer

Event organizer Jennifer Fierce shares, “We had our two police fleet vehicles on display which always draw a lot of interest. We also used our own city fleet EVs to supplement dealership-supplied vehicles for the test drives as supply for EVs is very limited right now. It was also important to us to include electric bikes at the event so there was a full display of mobility options.” 

Overall, attending this ride and drive event showed me how vital it is for people to get hands on experience with EVs and give communities a realistic idea of what switching to them would be like. It also showed me how events like this can be informative for all kinds of people regardless of their experience or familiarity with EVs. 

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