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High fives to test drives

August 2, 2018

Over the span of a couple of days of employee test drives, I started to hear the same two words over and over. When referring to the ride of the 100 percent battery-powered Chevy Bolt, it was all "wow" and "awesome."

Yep, that pretty much sums it up. I knew these Minnkota test drives would do the trick.

Before we took off on test drives, I had the opportunity to show Minnkota employees how to plug in the car to charge, including the split-second wait for the green light indicator to flash. That's how you know you're getting power!

We had a completely full sign-up sheet to put the EV to the test, except for one slot at 8 a.m. I guess everyone wanted caffeine in their systems first. I get it.

My first day pioneers came from a wide range of departments. Meter Data Administrator Patti Peterson said the bells and whistles of the car were very similar to the new vehicle she had just purchased. "This is very comfortable to drive," she said.

I asked Patti's test drive buddy Lisa Severson, energy conservation coordinator, what she thought of the car. "It's electrifying!" she joked from behind the wheel.

Lisa Severson took the Bolt out on the highway to see how it handled the 75 mph speed limit. It passed the test.

Patti and Lisa both had concerns about the size and bottom clearance of the car during the snowy winter, but loved the rest of what the car had to offer. Lisa said she would be excited to take it on a longer trip to see how changes in driving technique would effect her efficiency. "This car forces you to be more proactive," she said. And she's right.

Accountant Landon Schneider described the car as "fun" after his test drive, and I heard a lot of giddy giggles from Benefit Administrator Kim Eken.

Sarah Lundeby and Sean Devine from information technology teamed up for a test, and Sarah had some of my favorite reactions. As she accelerated and felt the power of the unassuming car, she exclaimed, "That's ridiculous!" When Sean picked up the pace on the highway, I heard Sarah in the backseat: "Seriously! I lost my stomach like I was on a fair ride!"

Sean Devine and Sarah Lundeby were a fun duo to have in the car. Sean even rocked the shades. Way to represent, Sean!

On the second day of tests, I heard more and more amazed reactions about just what this electric car could do.

Electrical Engineer Alex Manz really got a kick out of the regenerative braking and one-pedal driving, and Civil Engineer Lucas Hodnefield, upon accelerating onto Interstate 29, muttered, "Whoa," followed by a surprised laugh.

I also got a chance to get two of Minnkota's project management interns in the driver's seat. These two are among the youngest on the staff and among the most excited to learn about the new technology.

Phoebe Eichhorst took a moment at a red light to adjust the video-supported rear view mirror. The mirror has a lot of fans, but also some who say it's "distracting" right away. To each their own!

"My car is much older than this one, but everything feels so smooth here," Phoebe said during her drive around town. Having already taken her turn in the pilot's chair, Jenna looked around at the finishes of the cabin.  "The interior makes it feel sharp, clean and innovative," she said, later grabbing some photos with the car to send to friends.

I think it's safe to say the Bolt is growing its fan base.

- Kaylee Cusack, Minnkota communications specialist

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