Businesses, with a boost from Boulder County, extend deals on electric cars, bikes

Discounts being offered at three area retailers through early July

By Charlie Howard

For the Camera

Link to Story: Here

Michelle Daigle pulls the charging cord on her Nissan Leaf as Sara Cashin, Boulder Nissan's finance manager, looks on. (  Paul Aiken / File photo  )

Michelle Daigle pulls the charging cord on her Nissan Leaf as Sara Cashin, Boulder Nissan's finance manager, looks on. (Paul Aiken / File photo)

A Boulder County program promoting electric vehicle use is giving local businesses a boost — so much, in fact, that they are extending the deals.

Under the program, Electric Vehicle Benefits Boulder County, four retailers are offering deep discounts on electric cars and — for the first time this year — bikes.

Boulder's Full Cycle and Longmont's Small Planet EBikes are both offering 15 percent off e-bikes through July 9, while Boulder Nissan is extending its deal (an $8,000 discount and eligibility for up to $12,000 in tax incentives on a 2016 Nissan Leaf) through July 5.

The county is not providing financial incentives to the businesses, instead trading promotion and marketing in exchange for the retailer-funded discounts.

Since its late March start, 78 e-bikes and over 100 cars have been sold to Boulder County residents. (Gebhardt BMW was also a participating retailer, through June 30.)

Small Planet manager Sherri O'Hara wasn't exactly sure how many of the 60 bikes she sold could be attributed to the county program, but she has definitely noticed and increase in local customers.

"In previous years, we've had much bigger percentage of customers out of Denver and the Front Range," O'Hara said. "This season, it was highly concentrated in Boulder County: Interest tripled, maybe even more than that."

O'Hara said sales of e-bikes have been climbing steadily every year since the store's 2009 opening, increasing noticeably in the past two years. Electric-assist bikes have been allowed on the city of Boulder's multi-use paths since 2014.

The county adding e-bikes to the program this year "added legitimacy to them as a viable mode of transportation," O'Hara said.

"With electric bikes, our intention is to really see these replace cars," said Brad Smith, a sustainability specialist for Boulder. "A lot of people don't like to ride bikes to work because it will take too long, they'll wind up at work a hot and sweaty mess."

With the aid of a 7 lb. battery, O'Hara said, you can ride "40 miles up the Rocky Mountains" and arrive fresh faced and with energy to spare.

Also part of the program is an effort to increase the number of EV charging stations in the county. There are currently 88, the locations and even real-time availability of which can be checked

Local businesses can apply for a charging station to be located on their premises. Through an EV infrastructure grant-funding program, Charge Ahead Colorado, business owners can get 80 percent of the cost of a charging station covered, with the county and the city of Boulder covering an additional 10 percent.

Last year, 20 private businesses took advantage of the benefit. This year's program runs through July 31.

The county's efforts to increase infrastructure is needed: Both iterations of the EV program have seen more than 300 cars sold, according to Smith.

One notable participant of the county's program? County commissioner Deb Gardner, who purchased a Nissan Leaf.

"In the beginning I was always worried about having enough energy to get around, but there are so many charging stations around town that it makes it easy," she said.

"I haven't driven my other car in six months."

Staff writer Shay Castle contributed to this story