Smart EV Buyer Guide for Minnesotans, December 2019 Edition

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Jukka Kukkonen
Consultant, Electric Vehicles

Fresh Energy is working toward a future where Minnesotans are driving electric cars powered by clean, renewable electricity, not oil and gas. One of the barriers to this change has been the lack of electric cars available for sale on Minnesota lots. Minnesotans can change this trend by following the “No Plug, No Deal” mantra and showing the manufacturers that we are not willing to settle for inefficient, oil burning and high maintenance internal combustion engine vehicles anymore. This guide is for savvy consumers who are ready to change things and start driving better cars. Let’s make this happen.

MARKET UPDATE
Interest in EVs keeps growing as the general public learns more and sees their friends, relatives and coworkers shifting to driving electric. Our challenge this year has been that US policies at the federal level have not supported this growth in interest, but rather are geared toward slowing the sales of EVs. This has put the traditional auto manufacturers into a hold mode. At the same time, we can see that European and many Asian countries have very clear, long term policies in place that support transportation electrification, so auto manufacturers are investing their development funds and increasing their EV production in those markets. The US market has therefore seen very few new EV model introductions over the last 12 months and EV vehicle availability has been poor for many models. Traditional auto manufacturers have also poured their advertising dollars into the truck and SUV market and this keeps increasing demand for those vehicles.

While traditional auto manufacturers have been slow in their moves, Tesla has been increasing their market share with the Model 3. This year, for example, they have doubled their sales in Minnesota and sold more vehicles here than Acura, Cadillac, Chrysler, Lincoln or Volvo. This is clearly showing that there is demand for EVs and will put pressure on traditional auto makers who see their market share and status eroding.

Theoretically, there are now 27 EV models available in the Midwest, and a fun fact is that over 70% of these models are available in All Wheel Drive. You can get the full list by visiting www.EVInfoList.com. Unfortunately, many manufacturers provide so few units to Midwest dealers that many of these vehicles are really hard to find. At the same time, battery technology has advanced quite a bit in recent years, providing a minimum of 150 miles of EPA driving range for EVs and making them more affordable.

We are expecting auto manufacturers to launch over 100 new EV models to the US market between 2020 and 2023. By 2023 we also expect to have over 70 electric crossovers, SUVs and pickup trucks in the US market. How many of these will be available in Minnesota will depend a lot on whether or not we adopt the Clean Cars MN standard.

Let’s take a look at the present model lineup and availability. I will also provide info on present availability and the best places to buy them in Minnesota. Below the list of these new cars, I will also provide information about used EVs, EV incentives, home charging setup considerations and emissions.  

MW-EV-Info-List-dec-2019
Download PDF of the Midwest EV Info List quick reference guide here.

NEW EVs
For new EVs, see all the specs by downloading the latest EV Info List from www.EVInfoList.com. With the help of the list you can focus on the vehicles that fit your use case and budget. Then check out www.Cars.com to see which dealers have the models that you are interested in and go to test drive all of them before making any decisions. I could certainly tell you which ones I like the best but it is much more important that you choose the car that YOU like the best. Have fun with it.

  • Audi e-tron
    Audi will be adding many EV models in coming years and the e-tron is their first EV on the market. It is a Battery Electric Vehicle (BEV) in the luxury SUV class. Audi Minneapolis currently has the best selection of e-trons with 26 units on the lot, followed by Audi Richfield with 17 units and Audi St Paul with 8 units.
  • BMW
    BMW has theoretically 6 EV models available: i3, i8, 330e, 530e, 740e and X5 sDrive40e. Unfortunately, currently there is just one i3 and one 530e at Minnesota dealers so let’s get back to this when BMW starts to provide more units to their dealers.
  • Chevrolet Bolt
    After Chevrolet discontinued the Volt, the only EV currently available at Chevy dealers is the Bolt EV. It is seeing some minor changes in the 2020 model, the biggest being the range increase from 238 miles to 259 miles. Chevrolet has also compensated for the lower federal tax credit ($1875 for 4 more months before going away) by providing great rebates, so there are really good deals on Bolts right now. The leading Bolt dealer in the Twin Cities has been Rosedale Chevrolet, but currently other Chevrolet dealers seem to have units, too.
  • Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid (PHEV)
    The Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid is a Plug-in Hybrid EV (PHEV) and the first PHEV minivan in the US. Unfortunately Chrysler is not currently providing units to the Midwest, so there is just one new Pacifica Hybrid at the dealers in Minnesota.
  • Ford Fusion Energi
    The Ford Fusion PHEV has been in the market since 2013 and Ford is not putting too much effort into selling or marketing it, so Minnesota dealers have just two units at the moment on dealer lots. I think we will see much more activity from Ford next fall when they start selling the recently unveiled Mustang Mach-E electric crossover.
  • Honda Clarity PHEV
    The Honda Clarity PHEV has the longest electric range (48 miles) of any PHEV currently available in the US market. Unfortunately, Honda changed their strategy earlier this year and is currently providing Clarity only to states that have adopted Zero Emission Vehicle standards. Since MN is not a ZEV state yet, we don’t have any available here right now.
  • Jaguar I-Pace
    The Jaguar I-Pace is an electric luxury SUV that was introduced to the Minnesota market earlier this year. It has won many awards including European Car of the Year 2019 and is right now getting a 12 mile bump to its range of 234 miles. Jaguar Minneapolis currently has eight units available.
  • Kia Niro PHEV
    The Kia Niro PHEV provides a good option for those who have a relatively short daily commute, but want to have flexibility on their driving range. The Niro offers an all-electric range of 26 miles before switching over to gasoline and getting 46 MPG on hybrid mode. There are currently 10 Kia Niro PHEVs at Barnett, Luther and Lupient dealers in Twin Cities.
  • Mercedes-Benz
    Mercedes is currently selling just the plug-in hybrid GLC 350e luxury SUV in the US, but the availability is not good so Mercedes dealers in Minnesota have only one unit available. Mercedes was expected to bring the full electric EQC SUV to the US market early next year, but they just postponed it to 2021 because of the strong demand in Europe. I guess we have to wait a bit longer to see those in Minnesota.
  • Mini
    Mini used to sell Cooper SE All4 PHEV in Minnesota, but it looks like they don’t have any units here now. Mini did unveil the all electric Cooper SE at the LA Auto Show last month and it should arrive to the U.S. early next year. We shall wait and see.
  • Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV
    The Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV is the world’s bestselling plug-in crossover and has been outselling the gasoline version model in many parts of the world. We are lucky to have a really dedicated dealer, White Bear Mitsubishi, in the Twin Cities and in some months they have sold more Outlander PHEVs than any other Mitsubishi dealer in the US. They even hold the monthly sales record for Outlander PHEVs in the US. So if you are looking for an affordable four-wheel drive PHEV, visit White Bear Mitsubishi. Currently they have 81 Outlander PHEVs on their lot:
  • Nissan Leaf
    The Nissan Leaf has been the BEV mainstay on the market. When the Leaf first came to the Midwest market in 2012, it had a range of 73 miles. Now the base model has double that, 150 miles, and if you need more the Plus model offers 225 miles range. In addition to the $7500 tax credit Nissan and utility companies are providing a $3500 rebate for the base models and $2500 for the plus models until the end of this month. Kline Nissan in Maplewood has been the leading Leaf dealer in the Midwest for some time, but Eden Prairie Nissan, Morries, Walser and others are also doing a good job with Leaf sales. We have currently 32 new Leafs at Minnesota Nissan dealers. 
  • Porsche
    Porsche has sold Panamera and Cayenne PHEVs for years, and currently Minnesota dealers have just one new Cayenne PHEV and three used Panamera PHEVs on their lots. However, early next year they will bring their first full electric model, the Porsche Taycan, to the market. Porsche is planning to electrify a good number of their existing models in the coming years, and this will not just reduce energy consumption but also improve performance, so this is an excellent development for Porsche enthusiasts.
  • Tesla Model 3
    With the Model 3, Tesla has really shown how well EVs sell when you provide the right product and are willing to sell it. Tesla sells more Model 3s than all EV sales combined from other manufacturers, and they are even putting many traditional auto manufacturers’ total vehicle sales to shame. In Minnesota, Tesla has had just a one small service center in Eden Prairie with show floor for a single car. Still, they have sold more EVs in Minnesota in 2019 than many traditional manufacturers have sold ICEs. This fall, Tesla opened up a new location in Maplewood, and when they bring the crossover Model Y to the market next year we can expect to see even more impressive sales numbers. I personally hope that this will be a final wakeup call for all traditional manufacturers that they really need to take EVs seriously. The Model 3 itself is an excellent vehicle and I think the only thing I need to say about it is that the latest Bloomberg survey of 5,000 Model 3 owners showed that 99% of respondents said they would recommend the Model 3 to their family or friends, and 98% said they would buy the vehicle again. So if you haven’t test driven the Model 3 yet, stop by their Eden Prairie store or the Maplewood store .
  • Tesla Model S and Model X
    Even though the Model S and X are only about 20% of Tesla sales nowadays, they are still within the six most sold EV models in the US this year. Both models keep getting over the air updates that add more features and the recent Raven drivetrain upgrade increased the longest driving range for the Model S to 370 miles and the Model X to 325 miles. Tesla Autopilot has also been getting more capable, and together with the Supercharging network they make road trips very enjoyable experiences. Tesla has been able to crank up their production so they have all models available at stores. If they happen to have the color-options combination you like, you can drive one home soon after your test drive.
  • Volvo
    Volvo is supposed to sell four PHEV models, S60T8, S90T8, XC60T8 and XC90T8 in Minnesota, but unfortunately the availability has been pretty poor this year. Currently Borton Volvo has four XC60T8 SUVs on their lot and Kline doesn’t have any. Next year Volvo will be bringing the full electric XC40 Recharge crossover to the US market and we can just hope that we get more of those to Minnesota dealers.

USED EVs
Used EVs are also an excellent option. The federal tax credit for new cars effectively lowers the price of used EVs, and since the newer models have longer driving range there are some great deals on first generation EVs that have shorter ranges. For example, you can find 2012-2014 Nissan Leafs or Chevrolet Volts for less than $10k. Even a used Tesla Model S from that era can be found for less than $40k. PlugInAmerica has a Used EV Buyers Guide that provides a bit more information about used models and what to consider when looking for a used EV.

You can use Cars.com to see which bigger dealers have used EVs available. We are also lucky to have a used car dealership, GS Motors in Hopkins, that sells only used BEVs. Over the years I have sent dozens of people to GS Motors and everyone has had only positive things to say about their experience.

If you are interested in buying EVs directly from owners, the best resources would be Craigslist, Carsoup and Facebook Marketplace. You can also join MN EV Owners Facebook group to learn more about EVs and follow the group as occasionally members post their cars for sale when they upgrade to a newer EV.

Como Park charging station in Saint Paul.

CHARGING SETUP CONSIDERATIONS
Every EV comes with a Level 1 charging cord which you can plug into a regular 120V household outlet. If you drive on average less than 30 miles/day you can get by with Level 1 charging. This is why I usually suggest that people get the EV first and then start to figure out your charging setup. It is easier and faster to charge your EV with a 240V Level 2 charging station, so it’s also worth your consideration. Simple units cost $500-600 and the installation costs depend on the proximity to the closest breaker panel. I would recommend checking also what kind of EV rates, support and incentives your utility company provides for EV charging. The easiest way to find your utility company resources is to use the www.MNCharging.org webportal that provides links to all Minnesota utility companies.

And if you want to check out the public charging station locations for your road trips www.Plugshare.com is the most commonly used site among EV owners.

INCENTIVES

  • Federal Tax Credit
    A federal tax credit of up to $7500 is still available for all EVs, but some manufacturers have sold over 200,000 EVs so tax credits for their models are phasing out. Currently both Tesla and Chevrolet are at $1875. Tesla’s tax credit will drop to zero at the end of December and Chevrolet’s at the end of March 2020. You can find the up-to-date Federal Tax Credit information for all makes and models on our EV Info List.

    December is an excellent time to purchase a new EV because if you get your car before the end of the year you get to claim the federal tax credit as soon as you file your taxes. If you wait until January you will have to wait a full year before you can do it.
  • MnPASS Incentive
    The Minnesota Department of Transportation recently launched a MnPASS Electric Vehicle Incentive program which is designed to promote EVs and grow the MnPASS program. To qualify you need to buy or lease a new or used BEV or PHEV between November 1, 2019, and October 31, 2022. The program provides a one-time toll account credit to pay toll charges for using MnPASS lanes. BEV owners will receive a credit of $250 and PHEV owners will receive a credit of $125.
  • Utility company incentives
    Some utility companies provide charging infrastructure installation incentives that are usually linked to an EV rate that encourages charging during off-peak hours. Check your local utility company for more information about their programs.

SAFETY
If you wonder about the safety of EVs, I have good news for you. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) provides the most comprehensive safety ratings in the US, and all electric vehicles available in Minnesota get either their highest base level rating (Good) or even earn their top Safety Pick or Top Safety Pick + levels. These ratings are listed on our EV Info List.

EMISSIONS
For those still wondering how much cleaner and affordable electric vehicles really are, check out CarbonCounter.com. You can further impact your own EV emissions by signing up for utility companies’ renewable energy programs, buying shares from community solar program or installing solar panels on your own property.

So have some fun, test drive several vehicles to make sure you find the one you like the best and remember to follow the proven PlugInAmerica mantra, “No Plug, No Deal.”

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