Electric Vehicles

Test Drive EVent in Albert Lea!

Recharge Minnesota held a very successful event at Design Ready Controls (DRC) in Albert Lea on May 5! With test drive cars from Tesla, Ford, VW, and Nissan, plus showcase cars from those manufacturers and more, the attendees had a wide range of options for learning about EVs. VIP guests were treated to a behind-the-scenes tour of DRC and a ride around town on an electric school bus, courtesy of Interstate Truck Centers. 

Attendees completed 86 test drives, and DRC estimated delivering close to 400 tours of their facility. Exhibitors included Nuss Trucking, Freeborn Mower Electric Cooperative, Austin Utilities, Riverland College, Albert Lea Chamber of Commerce, MN DOT, and Heliox. Freeborn County 4-H brought kits for kids to assemble their own mini EVs, and food trucks from Nel’s Diner and Just Take the Cake Too were on hand with snacks and lunch options. 

Every test drive generated a donation to Alden-Conger High School’s Supermileage Club and VEX Robotics, student organizations that were also on hand to show off what they do. The Supermileage Club is headed to the world championships in India later this year! The student groups will each receive $2,500 as a result of sponsorships and donations from exhibitors and the community.

Recharge America – Securing the Promise of EVs for Everybody

Reporting from our annual recognition ceremonies and inaugural symposia in Minnesota and Massachusetts this spring

Recharge America has annually hosted recognition events in Minnesota and Massachusetts honoring leaders in EVs. This year also marked the first-ever statewide symposia in each state, aimed at providing an opportunity to share lessons learned among Recharge participants. Taking place on March 22 on the campus of Minnesota State University Mankato and on April 12 on the campus of University of Massachusetts Boston, these two events incorporated presentations from state officials, nonprofits, energy partners, and manufacturers on their advances and programs in the EV space. The centerpiece of each gathering was a video showcasing the impact Recharge participants have had across their respective states.

Learners eager to replicate successes in their communities participated in small breakout sessions led by industry leaders working to ensure that the rollout of EVs remains innovative and accessible, providing opportunities to everyone:

  • State officials from the Minnesota Department of Transportation and the Massachusetts  Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs outlined their priorities and opportunities for implementing National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (NEVI) plans. 
  • Representatives from energy partners like Xcel, Connexus, Fermata, Eversource, and National Grid outlined their programs for commercial customers that encourage EV charging installation and support grid resilience and planning. 
  • Businesses including Voltrek in Massachusetts and Design Ready Controls in Minnesota described their public-private partnerships that are driving economic and workforce development.
  • Researchers, policy analysts, and students from higher educational institutions — including MSU Mankato, Riverland Community College, Boston University, and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute — engaged with participants describing the hurdles ahead so they could lend their expertise to help solve those problems.
  • Stakeholders from community groups, like PLACE, HourCar and Good2Go carsharing services, Native Sun Community Power Development, and the Black Economic Council of Massachusetts, shared their efforts to bring EV access and innovation to Environmental Justice communities. 

The goal? Build on the promise that one of the best ways to boost EV adoption is to harness lessons learned from each other. Conversations during these events identified a variety of new initiatives for the coming year:

  • Aligning various incentive programs that provide grants and rebates with populations who can’t access them: overnight street parkers, deed-restricted parking spaces, and multifamily rental complexes;
  • Conducting outreach to Environmental Justice Communities (EJCs) to bring both EV cars and infrastructure into those communities in ways that truly serve the constituents who live in them;
  • Converting fleets of buses, trucks, and service vehicles to Zero Emission Vehicles (ZEVs) and supporting their adoption with flexible charging solutions that keep those fleets active on demand;
  • Connecting workforce development programs with manufacturing needs, particularly in economically disadvantaged communities;
  • Identifying further ways to reduce overall Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMTs) by connecting bike trails, providing micromobility opportunities, and growing carsharing and ridesharing programs.

Building off community engagement work across these states, the collaborative framework Recharge America is building demonstrates the power of positive storytelling to help realize the promise of an electric transportation system that can serve us all. We’re already looking forward to and planning next year’s symposia!

Recharge MN Spotlight: Southern Minnesota Municipal Power Agency (SMMPA)

Southern Minnesota Municipal Power Agency (SMMPA) views electric vehicles (EVs) as good for both business and the environment. As a result, EVs are an important component of the agency’s “SMMPA 2.0” strategic initiative focusing on environmental and economic sustainability, with a goal of moving its power generation portfolio to be 80 percent carbon free by 2030.

SMMPA generates and transmits wholesale electricity to 18 non-profit, municipally-owned member utilities across Minnesota. The agency announced the development of its EV charging network in 2019, with the goal of installing a DC Fast Charger and 2 dual-port Level 2 chargers in each of their members’ communities. As part of the initiative, SMMPA pays for the equipment and maintenance, so their members are only responsible for covering the installation. ZEF Energy assisted SMMPA with planning, including site and equipment selection. With two-thirds of their members already participating, the project is anticipated to be complete by the end of 2021.

“Since up to 90 percent of EV charging typically occurs in the owner’s garage at night, when electric demand is low, utilities can generally handle that load without additional generation,” says Christopher  Schoenherr, SMMPA’s Director of Agency and Government Relations.

Even as the availability of public charging stations continues to grow, some consumers hesitate to make the switch to electric because of “range anxiety” – the fear they may not be able to reach distant destinations. SMMPA’s EV charging network is intended to help alleviate those concerns and expand EV adoption longer term. That’s why the agency’s Board unanimously made the investment in them. 

“To the extent that we get more EVs in people’s garages, that’s where the economic payback will be for us,” says Christopher. “In addition to that, the charging network aligns well with our SMMPA 2.0 initiative to significantly reduce our carbon footprint.”

SMMPA hosts a dual-port Level 2 charging station at its headquarters in Rochester, Minnesota that is open to the public, and expects its next fleet vehicle purchase will be an EV. SMMPA works closely with its members on EV marketing campaigns and educational resources, including an EV 101 brochure. The agency also delivered an ad campaign around a Nissan LEAF rebate that became their most clicked digital ad. 

SMMPA is currently in the early stages of exploring an EV sharing initiative, a potential way of introducing residents of smaller communities to EVs. A driver would be able to rent an EV for anywhere from an hour to a week, allowing them to have a hands-on, first person experience to see if it’s right for them. 

Learn more about the Southern Minnesota Municipal Power Agency. To download the complete Recharge Minnesota SMMPA case study, click here.

Recharge MN Spotlight: Mankato Area Foundation

Electric vehicles (EVs) align well with the mission of The Mankato Area Foundation, whose purpose is to improve the livability in Greater Mankato through philanthropy. The Foundation’s support of EV education and awareness programs has helped establish Mankato as an EV leader among smaller communities in Minnesota and the nation.  

 In 2018, the Mankato Area Foundation (with the Olseth Family Foundation, an organization working to improve community through support of the arts, education, the environment and the underserved, and the College of Science, Engineering and Technology at Minnesota State University, Mankato) launched Recharge Mankato, a community initiative aimed at improving the health and vitality of the Greater Mankato region through the use of emerging transportation technologies, including EVs. 

“We planned our first Recharge Mankato event at Minnesota State University Mankato in 2018 with hopes of getting 100 people there to try electric vehicles. In fact, 161 people attended and we were thrilled,” says Mankato Area Foundation President and Chief Executive Officer Nancy Zallek. 

The next year, Recharge Mankato hosted nearly 1,000 people at another test drive event, with over 500 attendees having an electric vehicle experience. According to Nancy, the impact of in-person events has a disproportionate impact on increasing EV adoption in smaller communities like Mankato, where people tend to know each other. 

“A few key stakeholders ended up buying EVs after being introduced to the idea at our events, and that created momentum for others to consider doing the same,” Nancy reports. 

The Foundation notes a beneficial trickle-down EV infrastructure effect, with Mankato now offering residents and visitors 19 public charging stations: 16 Level 2 and three Level 3 DC fast chargers: an impressive number for a community of just over 42,000 residents. Over 60% of the chargers are free to the public. The Foundation itself hosts a dual port Level 3 DC fast charger in Downtown Mankato that is open to the public 24/7 and is listed on PlugShare. It was the result of collaboration between the Mankato Foundation, the Olseth Family Foundation, and Neubau Holdings, with money generated from the chargers going toward community EV initiatives. 

The Foundation hopes to support ride and drives and EV educational events as soon as conditions permit. It is also exploring ways, either virtually, in-person, or a combination of both, for promoting electric school buses. Local municipalities and school districts are beginning to realize the potential of electric buses, but tend to have more questions than answers. The foundation has discovered through Recharge Mankato that educational initiatives can serve as a catalyst for bringing these ideas to fruition.Learn more about the Mankato Area Foundation. To download the complete Recharge Minnesota Mankato Area Foundation case study, click here.

Recharge MN Spotlight: White Bear Mitsubishi

White Bear Mitsubishi is the top-selling dealer in the country for Mitsubishi Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEVs), and the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV is the top-selling plug-in in St. Paul, Minnesota, the dealership’s hometown. General Manager and Owner Richard Herod III says that this record of accomplishment didn’t happen by accident. He, along with his sales managers and half of his sales staff, drive plug-in hybrids. 

“If you think about our state, people in Minnesota drive trucks and SUVs. Personally, I have been driving the Outlander PHEV for over three years now,” Richard says. “Most of my driving is done in electric mode. On my daily commutes, I’ve been averaging 45 to 65 miles per gallon and you just can’t do that with many cars, especially midsize four-wheel-drive SUVs.”

Richard reports that his team’s personal familiarity with plug-ins is an important factor in White Bear Mitsubishi achieving record Outlander PHEV sales year after year. Today, White Bear Mitsubishi sells more plug-in Outlanders than its gas consuming counterpart. The dealership purchased 100 Outlander PHEVs in August 2020, and only 14 were left by the end of the year.

“We find our salespeople saying to our customers, ‘Do you have a garage? Do you have an outlet in your garage? If so, you should consider driving a plug-in hybrid,’” says Richard. “We sell to customers looking for internal combustion engines, because we believe the driving experience is that superior, and when you consider the tax credit, it’s a no-brainer.”  

White Bear Mitsubishi has participated in auto shows and community education events in the past, and is excited to present the 2021 Outlander PHEV as soon as it is possible. In terms of its own EV infrastructure, the dealership has three free charging locations available to the public at no cost. 

For the coming year, Richard’s goal is to be the number one Outlander PHEV dealer in the country for the third year in a row. It would be a particularly noteworthy accomplishment, not just for the fact that Minnesota doesn’t offer PHEV tax credits, but because White Bear Mitsubishi plants a tree for each vehicle test drive. Over 500 trees were planted in 2020 alone.

Learn more about White Bear Mitsubishi. To download the complete Recharge MN White Bear Mitsubishi case study, click here.

MassEVolves Spotlight: Boston University

Boston University (BU) is committed to meeting the climate action goals set forth by the City of Boston and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Through its Climate Action Plan, the University has also set its own robust targets to act on climate.

One important piece of BU’s Climate Action Plan is electrifying the University fleet. BU is committed to transitioning its fleet to electric and reducing direct emissions to zero by 2040. Working with a third party, the University conducted a study to identify suitable electric vehicle (EV) alternatives. By the end of fiscal year 2022, BU will pilot electric fleet vehicles and as departments request to replace vehicles, electric models will be given first priority.

The Massachusetts Electric Vehicle Incentive Program (MassEVIP) has played a crucial role in Boston University’s continued expansion of its community-focused EV charging facilities. Across its Charles River Campus and Medical Campus, BU has 12 dual head electric vehicle charging stations with an eight more being installed. With the increased demand for electric vehicles, members of the BU community are taking full advantage of the infrastructure as it expands on our campuses.

Boston University is proud to be an active participant in MassEVolves and to support a clean energy future in Massachusetts and beyond.

Learn more about Boston University. To download the complete MassEVolves Boston University case study, click here.

MassEVolves is a statewide initiative conducted by Recharge America in partnership with the Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs and the Department of Environmental Protection. More information about the MassEVolves program is at

MassEVolves Spotlight: Hampshire College

Hampshire College offers free electric vehicle (EV) charging stations on campus to their community as a way to build and support the infrastructure required for large scale adoption of electric vehicles. EVs are a key part of the school’s longstanding commitment to sustainability.

Hampshire provides four 220-volt EV charging stations free to the community, powered partly by the college’s solar fields. There's a time limit of three hours, and employees can work together to make sure that all vehicles are able to be charged daily as needed.

Hampshire’s R.W. Kern Center is a model for what a sustainable, equitably built environment can be. Hampshire produces 100 percent of the building's energy with rooftop solar, treats its own wastewater, and maintains a nearby meadow of indigenous plants to host local wildlife.

“When people come to visit Hampshire College, we want them to see what a beautiful, accessible sustainable campus looks like,” says Sara Draper, director of the R.W. Kern Center. “For us, providing free electric vehicle charging on campus for students, employees, and visitors is a way that we as an organization can help build and support the infrastructure required for large scale adoption of electric vehicles.”

Some of Hampshire's other sustainability efforts include a bike share and repair program, an onsite campus farm and CSA, two large-scale solar fields with capacity to provide for all campus electrical needs, and a residential composting program. Many of these programs started as student projects or were championed by student groups. Over the next two years, Hampshire hopes to grow their charging capabilities, offer educational test drive events for the community, generate an annual sustainability report with a section on transportation, and transition campus fleet vehicles to electric, including the President’s personal vehicle.

“I've heard personally from staff that knowing that there are already chargers on campus is a big factor in them deciding to buy an electric vehicle,” says Sara. “We know our students will continue to innovate and advocate with us to build the future we need and we know that electric vehicles and sustainable transit are part of that future.”

Learn more about Hampshire College at To download the complete MassEVolves Hampshire College case study, click here.

MassEVolves is a statewide initiative conducted by Recharge America in partnership with the Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs and the Department of Environmental Protection. More information about the MassEVolves program is at

MassEVolves Spotlight: Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI)

Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) is an independent nonprofit, leading the way in ocean research, exploration and education. WHOI scientists and engineers are tackling some of the most challenging and important problems of our time. 

From climate change to plastic waste, to sustainable food and energy production, WHOI understands what is at stake and how we are connected to the ocean systems. 

“That’s why we need to do whatever we can to decrease the amount of carbon dioxide we put into the atmosphere,” says Stephanie Madsen, Sustainability Coordinator for WHOI. 

WHOI has over 1,000 employees, two campuses, and 66 buildings in the small coastal town of Woods Hole, Massachusetts. In 2015, with the financial help of the Massachusetts EVIP Program, WHOI installed four electric vehicle (EV) chargers. Then with the help from Eversource’s EV Make Ready Program, we installed 4 more with the  capabilities of expanding to six additional charging stations. “We like to offer our staff innovative transportation options,” Stephanie says.  “Our philosophy has always been, ‘If we build, they will come.’” 

Since then, the number of EV drivers has doubled, and some staff commute regularly from Off Cape in EVs. For these accomplishments, WHOI was featured in Cape and Plymouth Business for their work with electric vehicles. 

To assist with further EV adoption, WHOI’s Sustainability Task Force will continue to offer EV fairs, test drive events, and informational lunch and learns in the future. In addition, the institution will begin the adoption of electric fleet vehicles and trucks, and will reinstate their Green Shuttle program.

“We are excited because researchers and staff can align with their mission to understand and protect our most critical resource, the ocean,” says Stephanie. “They can park and plug in, head into the lab to do their innovative and important work.”

Learn more about Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution at To download the complete MassEVolves Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution case study, click here.

MassEVolves is a statewide initiative conducted by Recharge America in partnership with the Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs and the Department of Environmental Protection. More information about the MassEVolves program is at

MassEVolves Spotlight: University of Massachusetts Boston (UMass Boston)

University of Massachusetts Boston (UMass Boston) is passionate about electric vehicle (EV) advocacy, with an eye toward a more sustainable future. The university supports the adoption of sustainable transportation modes that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and create a healthier planet. 

UMass Boston announced a new project at the MassEVolves 2020 Recognition Event that combines solar and storage with EV charging: a 1,000-kilowatt solar photovoltaic system on the roof of the University’s parking garage, a 500-kilowatt lithium-ion battery system, and 11 EV charging stations. 

“We’re really interested in getting our EV chargers up and running,” says Transportation Demand Management Coordinator Daniel Scavongelli, “and then reaching out to our community members through marketing and events, such as Bike to Work Week and Transportation Awareness Days, to help guide and influence decisions regarding EV usage on campus. Additionally, we look forward to hosting MassEVolves events once campus life resumes.”

Currently, UMass Boston has a robust online outreach program through various channels including weekly emails, social media, newsletters and website interaction, and offers green transportation options to its students, faculty and staff.

UMass Boston collaborates and promotes green transit options working with the MA Leading By Example Program, Second Nature Climate Commitment as well as the UMass System Sustainability Policy and annual reporting. UMass Boston has been recognized annually as one of Princeton Review’s Green Colleges Campuses in the country since 2010.Learn more about the University of Massachusetts Boston at To download the complete MassEVolves University of Massachusetts Boston case study, click here.

MassEVolves is a statewide initiative conducted by Recharge America in partnership with the Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs and the Department of Environmental Protection. More information about the MassEVolves program is at

MassEVolves Spotlight: Bard College at Simon’s Rock

“2020 was a big year for energy efficiency for Simon’s Rock, despite COVID challenges,” says Jason Maronde, Energy Manager for Bard College at Simon’s Rock. The College is finalizing Mass EVIP Grant funding for new electric vehicle chargers, four new Level 2 units at the Kilpatrick Athletic Center.

The education institution is currently conducting efforts to receive funding to purchase the first hybrid super duty truck in Berkshire County, a Ford F-250 that would be upfit to PHEV with technology provided by Massachusetts based XLFleet.

“Simon’s Rock is proud to be a part of MassEVolves, and proud to be a part of the future,” says Jason. “Someday electric vehicles will be everywhere. And it’s important that we now lay the groundwork for this bright future for everyone by installing electric vehicle chargers and promoting the cause wherever we go.” 

Together, MassEVolves and Simon’s Rock will produce an electric vehicle test drive event for their community when in-person events commence.Learn more about Bard College at Simon’s Rock at To download the complete MassEVolves Bristol Community College case study, click here.

MassEVolves is a statewide initiative conducted by Recharge America in partnership with the Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs and the Department of Environmental Protection. More information about the MassEVolves program is at