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EV technology racing to the north

December 3, 2019

Paul Blomquist is about to let the horse out of the stable.

The Roseau County Ford dealership owner is charged up about the recent Nov. 17 unveiling of the Ford Mustang Mach-E, the electric vehicle (EV) northern Minnesota drivers have been waiting for – an SUV with all-wheel drive capabilities and a range that can get them to the lake and back without a plug-in.

It’s the first new Mustang variety beyond the sports coupe, convertible and special editions to roll out in 55 years. This time, there’s no revving engine or gas tank to fill. The extended-range battery makes a 300-mile trip without a charge. And, of course…

“Zero to 60 in under 4 seconds,” Blomquist said. “There are just so many things about what this product can do – it’s really exciting.”

Along with creating a more sharply angled windshield to emphasize the Mustang Mach-E's sporty look, Ford also dropped the car's rail faster and in a more coup-like style. (Ford)

At that time, Roseau County Ford will welcome to its lot one of five styles – the First Edition, Select, Premium, California RT.1 Edition or GT. The dealership plans to work hand-in-hand with Roseau Electric Cooperative to show local drivers how easy and beneficial owning an EV can be.

The interior of the Mustang Mach-E represents a fusion of sleek, modern design and smart functionality. (Ford)

Roseau Electric’s Jeremy Lindemann, director of member services, says he is eager to see the Mach-E on the Ford lot. It’s a new opportunity for people to test drive and experience an EV firsthand, right in their hometown.

“People are going to be able to see that EVs are not a concept that will only succeed in the future – they are here right now,” he said. “We now have a major vehicle manufacturing company that is investing huge dollars into EVs.”

Lindemann also noted that Ford will offer an affordable at-home charger that will work well with Roseau Electric’s off-peak program, which will reduce the cost of charging an EV by approximately half. He added that members can also receive an additional rebate on their home charging station.

“EVs are going to provide extremely affordable transportation, with operating costs of less than a dollar a gallon gas equivalent. That’s something that is really going to help our members,” he said.

Both Lindemann and Blomquist recognize that winter driving is a concern for potential EV adoptees, but they also know the Mach-E will show skeptics that the cold-weather challenges are often exaggerated.

“To me, the all-wheel drive is most exciting aspect, no question, because of our winter situation,” Blomquist said. “We’re going to dispel a lot of the myths around EVs.”

Roseau County Ford owner Paul Blomquist is thrilled to expand his solid selection of trucks and SUVs into the electric realm with the all-electric Mustang Mach-E. (Roseau County Ford)

More rugged EV options

In addition to the Mustang Mach-E SUV, the upper Midwest is also chattering about three new all-electric pickups that have been announced – although they may not all fit that practical Minnesotan style.

  • Tesla unveiled its futuristic Cybertruck on Nov. 21 to mixed reviews. Although the electric pickup raised a few eyebrows because of its steampunk-style design and broken window mishap during the launch event, the Cybertruck secured nearly 150,000 reservations in just two days following the announcement – that’s about $15 million in deposits.
  • Rivian is planning to release its highly anticipated R1T in 2020 or 2021, a $70,000 pickup with up to 750 horsepower and 400 miles of range. The Rivian has been driving the electric truck conversation with huge investments from Amazon and Ford.
  • Speaking of Ford, true pickup lovers have been most intrigued by the announcement of the all-electric F-150 set to begin production in 2021. The automaker has already released a video of the EV pickup towing a one-million-pound train of rail cars. For those looking for power to tow farm equipment or boats, this one will deliver.

Growing northern adoption

Roseau County Ford is one of 2,100 EV-certified dealerships out of Ford’s 3,800 dealerships nationwide, and one of the few in the region. The addition of the Mach-E (and eventually the electric F-150) to his sales lot is just one piece of Blomquist’s investment and commitment to supporting electric vehicle adoption in the area. In the coming year, his shop will buy new equipment to service EVs, complete the necessary service training and install two Level 2 EV chargers at the dealership.

Ford is offering a Ford Connected Charge Station that will be able to add an estimated average range of 32 miles per charging hour with a 240-volt outlet to the Mach-E RWD extended range battery. (Ford)

His updates are just the beginning of the buzz. Blomquist said he has already heard local curiosity in how public charging opportunities may continue to grow. “With an announcement like this, there is going to be a lot more interest in communities and/or gas stations to install fast charging stations,” he said.

By working together with the teams at Roseau Electric and Minnkota Power Cooperative (Roseau Electric’s wholesale power provider), Roseau County Ford will find many ways to spread the word about the power of EVs – through special events, test drives, print and digital communication and more.

“This is the right time with the right product,” Blomquist said. “It’s not going to be for everyone, but there’s no question that the message is out there and the interest is out there.”

Nationwide reservations for the Mustang Mach-E are first come, first served and are pouring in fast. In fact, the First Edition model sold out in just nine days. Those interested in getting a Mach-E of their own can put down a fully refundable $500 deposit to add their names to the reservation list. Prospective buyers can come see Blomquist at the Roseau County Ford dealership to ask questions and make a deposit, or they can simply visit the Ford website to complete a reservation.

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