Detroit Lakes is fortunate to be one of nine communities in Minnesota selected by the state to receive an electric vehicle charging station.
The city had to meet some particular criteria and was found to be a great fit. Now, these humble little charging stations could put DL on the map as a nice stop on an electric-car corridor through the state.
That's a lot of pressure to put on something that isn't much more than a specialty filling-station pump. And many locals will laugh at the idea of an e-car in a heavy Minnesota winter, but hear us out.
Minnesota is one of the states that received settlement money after Volkswagen was caught cheating on its diesel emission tests. With that money, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency awarded grant funding to ZEF Energy to build 22 electric vehicle charging stations along major highway corridors in Minnesota.
Vernell Roberts, general manager of Detroit Lakes Public Utilities, told the Tribune that DL was picked for its easy access to Highway 10, with downtown restaurants and shopping options within walking distance of the electric charge station location (which will be in a pair of city-owned parking spaces near Jimmy John's and Lakes Liquor).
Because charging an electric vehicle can take more time than traditional fuel, those nearby amenities and ease of access are critical for visitors, who will likely spend sometime away from their Chevy Bolts or Nissan Leafs.
And these aren't just any visitors.
The tech website CNET.com says that the top three electric vehicles in the U.S. are all Tesla models. And, according to Hedges & Company Market Research, owners of the popular Tesla Model 3 have an average household income of $153,313. Tesla owners skew older, are homeowners and likely are empty-nesters.
That is a fantastic demographic to capture in your community for an hour or two.
There are numerous websites dedicated to e-vehicle tourism, too: Maps of where to charge, and tips on what to do while you wait.
With a Tesla dealership just a few hours away in the Twin Cities, it's not far-fetched to imagine an electric vehicle owner charging up in St. Cloud (another city receiving the chargers) and making the quick trek up to lakes country and back.
Having those charging stations mapped out makes that a possibility.
When the charging station is installed next year, we hope to see city leaders tout this new feature, on their websites and social media and in tourism info, to wring as much juice out of the 50 kW fast-charging station as they can.
It's another check in the "win" column for Detroit Lakes, and another opportunity to draw visitors to the area.