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Back in the saddle again

June 6, 2022

You haven’t heard from the Energize Your Drive blog for a while, and that’s because Minnkota is between electric vehicles now (bye bye Bolty, hello surprise new EV to come!). However, I’ve been itching to get on the road again, so when a request came in for an EV appearance at the Hawley Lions’ Breakfast on the Farm on June 4, I was in.

Our gracious partners at Roseau County Ford said they had a Ford Mustang Mach-E GT that we could borrow for summer events. Yes, that’s the PERFORMANCE EDITION.

I picked up the Mach-E from the sales manager the Friday afternoon before the event (Thanks, Lowell!) and I was already smitten by the time I got to Interstate 29. But with that speedy smooth merge onto the interstate and incredible high-speed battery efficiency (75 mph was NOT a range killer, like some EVs), I was soon deeply in love.

This baby would be hard to give back.

I didn’t need to stop and charge before I arrived in Fargo for the evening, but I wanted to check out the new fast charging station in Hillsboro – I hadn’t yet had the chance, and I heard the charger is currently free. To my surprise, a Chevy Bolt from Canada was already plugged in and charging at the CCS port. Can you blame him? It’s a perfect pit stop between the fast chargers in Fargo and Grand Forks.

So I arrived in Fargo at the fabulous West Acres fast charger, plugged in, and met up with a friend for dinner at one of the nearby restaurants (mmm…burgers). After a little over an hour, I had all the power I needed to head out to the event in the morning.  

Thanks for the charge, Cass County Electric Cooperative. This station has never let me down.

With the sun just climbing at 6 a.m. on Saturday, I left Fargo for the 35-minute drive to RDO Equipment in Hawley. When I arrived, the event organizer, Keith, pointed me to a 1926 Ford Model T. “Can you pull up right over there?” he asked.

Oh, yes. Yes I can.

Side story: The Model T's owner would occasionally start his car to let people hear the high-decibel rumbling. He would look over to me and say, "Start the Mach-E to compare." I would start it silently, pop out and say, "It's running!" That one got some giggles. It was a great crowd for comedy.

Nearly 3,000 people attended the five-hour event, which boasts a delicious free-will pancake breakfast, a kids tractor pull, farm animals, informational booths from dozens of rural entities (including Minnkota!) and, my favorite – free ice cream.

I consumed a lot of mint chip. I’m not proud.

All ages found something fascinating about the Mach-E, from the 3.5-second zero-to-60 specs to the massive display screen that you can doodle on (when you're not driving, of course).

People swarmed the Mach-E all morning long with fantastic questions not only about the car, but also the future of electric vehicles. The skepticism that was so evident four years ago when I started attending these events has faded fast. People now KNOW EVs are here to stay, so their questions revolved around fast charging stations in Minnesota, the effect of EVs on the electric grid, and how the cars could be made more practical and more efficient.

I was giving out sunglasses and brochures, but these people were giving back some food for thought.

This family asked me to take their photo with their Energize Your Drive shades. I said long as I could also take one for myself.

The morning flew by and by noon I was hoarse from stellar conversation and only slightly sunburned. I packed up for the trip back north to Roseau. There were two new fast chargers I wanted to be sure to check out on the way.

I made my first stop at Fargo City Hall, where they have partnered with Xcel Energy to provide a ChargePoint station for downtown visitors. As I was plugging in, I was approached by a gentleman from North Fargo who apologized for being “nosy,” but he had never seen an EV plug into a fast charging station.

“How much will it cost you to charge it?” he asked.

“It appears this one is free, at least for now,” I responded.

“Really? That’s great!”

Yeah, I thought so, too.

The fast charging station was a great addition to Fargo's new city hall.

I walked a block away to grab a quick lunch while the Mach-E charged (it was a tough choice – the number of quality restaurants within four blocks of Fargo City Hall is astounding). When I returned, that beautiful EV was ready to head north.

As I passed through Grand Forks, I took a quick detour to try out the ZEF fast charging station at the Simonson Travel Center off of I-29. It worked like a dream. After spending a few minutes inside the convenience store choosing my next vessel for caffeine, I found that the charger has already popped the car up over 80% battery power. My goodness – so speedy.

Life hack: Even if you don't buy gas at the gas station, customers are still allowed to pull up to the pump to use the window squeegee. Which is good, because the summer bug splats became a dire issue.

I knew I only had two hours of driving left with the car, so I relished them by blasting nineties radio hits (that sound system…). I arrived at the dealership with plenty of charge left, plugged into their free Level 2 charging station, air-kissed the car goodbye, and plopped the key in the drop box.

You can't tell by the smile, but my heart was breaking as I snapped this final photo with the Mach-E.

We’ll meet again soon, you lovely beast.

- Kaylee Cusack, Minnkota Senior Communications Specialist

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