Innovation – Technology – Progression
BY: RACHEL WUMKES
We are seeing a shift in the automobile industry on a level we haven’t experienced since the first Model T was introduced in 1908 by Henry Ford. While this was the initial mass-produced vehicle made affordable and easy to operate, it also ran on this strange concept of using fuel.
To say there has been an evolution over the years would be an understatement, as now, we are on the paradigm of a major change, once again.
In the past year, sales of electric vehicles increased 40% over the previous year. While these still only account for about 9% of total vehicle sales across the nation, that is a significant jump.
So, why are they gaining such popularity?
Well, cost seems to play a key role. While the initial price tag might be much higher than a traditional vehicle powered by fuel, the EV is virtually maintenance free. In the long run, that equates to being cheaper to own than its gas-powered counterpart.
In fact, a recent study shows “lower long-term costs” as the #1 reason people choose an electric vehicle. It’s not the only reason, though. The EV also improves air quality which, in turn, helps slow global warming.
Fitting, considering we are in the throws of Earth Day festivities, right?
The downside to this shift into more EV on the road is the limited places to plug in and charge. You don’t want to be low on battery when you’re not even close to your destination. As it turns out, Clear Lake is considered a “brown spot” as there are currently no charging stations between Albert Lea and Dows.
Thankfully, Pritchards has a solution.
For the past 6 years their EV division, led by Ryan Pritchard, has been working on a way to introduce more of these vehicles into the community. With the technology available, they’ve seized the opportunity to capitalize on this shift in industry as they ride the wave into the next phase of automobiles as we know them.
Their recent purchase of the old Team Quest building just off I-35 launched Pritchards into the first step toward development in Clear Lake. They plan to build a charging station out front, equipped with 40-50 stations to accommodate drivers. With the average charge taking anywhere between 30 minutes to 2 hours, their plan is to revamp the building into an “Innovation Center” where patrons can enjoy the all-inclusive amenities while they wait.
But the light bulb of ideas didn’t burn out there.
Being a family-owned business, Pritchards knows the importance of getting people into our community. They plan to offer EV golf carts, bikes and scooters for people to rent while their vehicle charges, giving them ample time to venture further into Clear Lake and enjoy our downtown businesses. You may have noticed their recent renovations on the old Phillips 66 location on the corner of 8th & Main, as they are hopeful to have golf carts and other rentals available beginning Memorial Day weekend.
It’s genius, really. Because we all know what happens when out of towners see our beautiful Main Ave – they fall in love with the charm and simplicity of Clear Lake and make plans to come back for a visit.
This transition into an EV world is steadily happening across the country, and Pritchards is working diligently to help educate why it is a good fit for Clear Lake. The goal isn’t to eliminate other energy sources, but instead to run parallel and find that synergy to create the perfect storm for consumers. It is not their plan to “replace” but instead to “enhance.” They’ve even worked with North Iowa Area Emergency Service units on how to handle EV accidents and the proper procedure to disengage batteries for the safety and well-being of everyone involved.
To get your first look at some of the EV options they have available, head on over to the Green Expo on Thursday, April 21st from 4-7pm at the Surf Ballroom. Pritchards EV will have a “Ride & Drive” out front where people can test drive a Ford Mach-E. They will also have a Chevy Bolt and Ford E-transit on hand to look over and get a sneak peak into how they work.
Innovation – Technology – Progression
Buckle up, friends, because Pritchards EV is paving the way in Clear Lake, and this will be one ride you don’t want to miss!