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‘Electric Neighborhood’ 2x bigger at this year’s Twin Cities Auto Show, as dealers

Dealers say the EV market share in Minnesota is at 5.5%, lower than many had hoped for, but with more hands-on experiences dealers are hoping to educate drivers.

MINNEAPOLIS — The Twin Cities Auto Show kicked off Saturday morning and runs through April 7.

For the last eight years, the annual event has featured an “Electric Neighborhood,” where auto dealers can show off the latest EV models.

Organizers say this year the “Electric Neighborhood” is two-times bigger than it was last year, but the EV rollout in Minnesota is going slower than many in the industry expected.

“Here in Minnesota, we’re at about 5.5% of EV market share. Supposedly, once you get past 5%, the market is supposed to explode and gain general acceptance. That hasn’t happened,” Minnesota Automobile Dealers Association (MADA) President Scott Lambert says.

Nationwide, Lambert says the EV market share is about 7.75% which is lower than many EV advocates had hoped for by this time.

Lambert says nearly every automaker has entered the EV game, but many are starting to dial back their projections because they’re not seeing enough customers buying EV vehicles.

“There is still a problem with infrastructure in Minnesota and frankly the rest of the country,” Lambert says.

Another issue in Minnesota is the lack of variety when it comes to EV trucks, Lambert says.

“Minnesota is a big truck state. We buy and sell a lot of trucks in Minnesota. If we can get to a truck that goes over 400 miles in range in cold weather and can tow something, then that’s a breakthrough,” Lambert says.

MADA is promoting more hands-on experiences to entice buyers to try EV.

At the Twin Cities Auto Show, guests can test drive the latest EV’s and also speak with current EV owners who can explain the pros and cons of owning an EV in Minnesota.

Xcel Energy also has a large presence at the auto show this year.

Alisa Sobczak is the director of marketing for customer programs at Xcel Energy.

She and others are promoting Xcel Energy’s EV charger program.

“We want to make it easier and less costly for our customers,” Sobczak says.

The program features two price points.

At $17 a month, Sobczak says customers get a rental EV charger that is professionally installed by an electrician.

The customer also qualifies for an Xcel Energy off-peak program where they can charge their EV from midnight to 6:00 a.m., and pay a cheaper rate on their electricity

“The regular rate is 12 to 13 cents per kilowatt hour and with our program it’s down to 3 to 4 cents per kilowatt hour. So, it’s a pretty big savings,” Sobczak says.

With this program Sobczak says customers can plug in their EV when they get home, but the charging doesn’t start until midnight when the off-peak rate kicks in.

She says customers can also override the program and extend their charging time if they need.

“Let’s say someone is going on a long trip and they want more range, they can extend the charging time to get a full charge,” Sobczak says.

Customers can also pay a lower price point at $7 a month if they buy the EV charger themselves.

“With the program they still get the charger professionally installed by a professional electrician and they still get the same access to the off-peak rates,” Sobczak explains.

The show is open to the public every day until through Sunday, April 7.


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