Why One Olympic Gold Medalist Drives A Plug-In Hybrid In Vermont


Over the past few years, electric cars and plug-in hybrids have proven capable of performing in a variety of environments.

That includes the cold weather and the occasionally dangerous snowy roads of Vermont.

In the Green Mountain State, one particularly enthusiastic plug-in hybrid driver has no problem with snow-covered terrain.

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Ross Powers--a Gold Medalist U.S. Olympic snowboarder--drives a Ford Fusion Energi plug-in hybrid sedan, and he's pretty stoked about it.

Powers discusses his driving experience in the video above, produced by electric-car advocacy group Drive Electric Vermont.

He says the Ford fits his needs perfectly, providing room for his family and a roof-rack mount for his snowboards.

Ford Fusion Energi charging.

Ford Fusion Energi charging.

Enlarge Photo

Driving it is "just like any other car," he says, noting that the Fusion handles Vermont winters well.

The Fusion Energi has an electric range of 20 miles, and the EPA rates it at 88 MPGe (a measure that rates how far a vehicle can travel electrically on the same amount of energy as contained in 1 gallon of gasoline).

Powers says 20 miles is adequate for his daily trips to the Stratton Mountain School, where he heads the snowboarding program.

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Once the electric range is done, a 2.0-liter four-cylinder gasoline engine kicks in. The car gets 38 mpg combined when running as a gasoline hybrid.

The longer overall range of a plug-in hybrid or extended-range electric car is probably a necessity for many Vermont residents.

Most of the state is decidedly rural, with long distances between most of the 69 public charging stations listed by the Department of Energy's Alternative Fuels Data Center.

2013 Ford Fusion Energi

2013 Ford Fusion Energi

Enlarge Photo

The lion's share of electricity supplied to these stations comes from nuclear power, which accounts for about 72 percent of Vermont's electricity-generation capacity.

Hydro and biomass make up most of the rest of that capacity. Oil represents a tiny 0.7 percent of electricity generation.

Vermont currently offers no incentives for the purchase of new plug-in cars, although qualifying buyers can still get a Federal income-tax credit of up to $7,500.

While it hasn't yet incentivized them, Vermont hopes to increase the number of electric cars on its roads dramatically over the next decade.

It's part of an eight-state coalition that adopted rules saying that--by 2025--15 percent of vehicles sold within their borders must produce no emissions at all.

[hat tip: Dave Roberts]

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