Verendrye Electric Cooperative and Enerbase Cooperative form partnership to bring electric cars and level three charging stations to Minot

Taking a ride in Verendrye Electric’s electric car

Brandon Carr/MDN This Chevy Bolt EV could be joined by even more electric cars on Minot streets in the near future.

Editor’s Note: Brandon Carr, staff writer at The Minot Daily News, recently had the opportunity to take a ride in Verendrye Cooperative’s electric car with Tom Rafferty, Verendrye’s Member Services/Communications manager. Verendrye Electric and Enerbase Cooperative have partnered to bring electric cars and level three charging stations to Minot.

Awaiting my arrival inside the Verendrye Electric Cooperative parking lot is the 2020 Chevy Bolt EV. The all-electric four-door hatchback features a Cajun Red Tintcoat that displays a large green cable with a button top D cell battery shown on one end and a three-prong power cord on the other that expands from door to door.

The driver of the electric car is Verendrye’s Member Services/Communications Manager Tom Rafferty who is in charge of public relations, government relations, marketing, safety and energy conservation.

As we enter the vehicle, the eight-inch diagonal driver information display comes on behind the steering wheel. It starts swirling electric blue shapes in a tornado-like fashion, which shifts over to the 10.2-inch diagonal color touch-screen sitting in the center counsel, with the “O” forming two thunderbolts as Bolt EV displays on the screen.

After expressing pleasantries, I started feeling this warm sensation under my buttocks but I continue to marvel at the interior as I scootch forward in the passenger seat. The 10.2-inch diagonal color touch-screen in the center counsel displays the infotainment system, which provides audio to move in unison through the bass-driven Bose sound system throughout the car.

Sitting inside the vehicle gives the feeling of entering an arcade. There are so many things going on at one time that you don’t know where to start. The modern interior, with its mixtures of both firm and gentle pieces, gives the car a more luxurious feel.

The comfortable red stitch two-tone gray leather seats match the plastic color contrast, which is prominent from the door trim that continues from the driver panel across the length of the dashboard to the passenger side and the rear.

At this point, I’m starting to heat up a bit as sweat begins to flow throughout my pores. The home screen has adjustable layouts ranging from family, eco and custom. Underneath that is a function called Energy mode. The feature shows the energy used in the vehicle, as well as tips to save energy.

Dabbing the sweat from my brow on the edge of the seat, I look over at Rafferty whose grinning like a Cheshire cat. He asks, “Is your butt hot yet?” He got me. While enamored by all the glitz and glamour of this phenomenal vehicle, Tom had turned on the seat warmer.

Unbeknownst was the start of the vehicle. With all of its electronic gadgets lighting up, you become engulfed with its features that you miss how quiet the startup is. With its keyless entry, the blue power button resembles the Nos feature from car films when pressed.

“It makes a little bit of a whining sound,” said Rafferty after starting the car. “Electric (cars) have really good torque. The power is instant. A little car like this that features gas wouldn’t take off that well.”

As we chuckle, Rafferty switches to sport mode and presses down on the throttle to showcase the electric motor that’s under the hood, In neck-snapping fashion, the torque motor pulled me back into my seat.

Although fast, the takeoff feels like we’re gliding, as the low-end torque presses your back comfortably against the seat. Accelerating after takeoff has a drag race type of feel, unlike your regular vehicle, where your RPM’s have to start climbing first, with electric its instant power.

“It’s more zippy than many cars in its class, going from zero to 60 miles per hour in 6.3 seconds. That’s not sports car speed, but several other comparable gas-powered subcompacts struggle to do zero to 60 in less than nine seconds,” Rafferty said.

After giving it some gas, the nose of the car starts to tilt up, offering the versatility of a hatchback. When slowing down the vehicle, I notice he’s not moving his foot to the brake.

As we come to the intersection, he doesn’t shift his foot again. I notice he’s pressing a button behind the steering wheel as we come to a complete stop. He sees the confused look on my face and starts laughing. He then presses a button with his right hand while showing me the screen behind the steering wheel.

The screen displays a green battery indicator that resembles the icon from a smartphone. Depending on how much power remains, the symbol decreases throughout your drive. Underneath the battery speels, Regen, and when in use, two separate arrows begin rotating in a circular motion around the indicator showcasing that energy is in use.

Regen or Regenerative braking puts juice back into the battery to slow down the car. The function saves energy, brakes pads, and not to mention the cool factor to be able to slow a moving object, which ultimately comes to a complete stop without touching the brake pedal.

While eco friendly, electric is more efficient and better than gas said, Rafferty. “It’s better on the environment as some electric is coal-based, but a good chunk comes from hydrogen and or wind.”

With fishbowl vibes, the massive windshield, rear glass, and windows allow for a lot of light to shine throughout the car. I now understand what it feels like to be a goldfish. After sweating from the sun and heated seats, we pull into the Cenex gas station north of Minot, where installation for the level three charging stations will reside during the summer of 2020.

Depending on the weather, driving style and terrain, the Bolt EV will travel up to 259 miles on a single charge. The sticker price for the Chevy Bolt starts at $41,020. The car comes with an eight-year 100,000-mile warranty on the battery, and for maintenance, you’ll never have to worry about getting an oil change because there’s no oil in the car. The only thing you’ll have to worry about is maybe brakes and tires somewhere down the line.


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