Electric Vehicle Neighborhood at the Twin Cities Auto Show

June 1, 2022 | | Events

Moaz Uddin is Great Plains Institute’s Electric Vehicle Policy Specialist and is a member of the Transportation & Fuels Team and Drive Electric Minnesota staff. The following blog is a first-hand account of his first experience at the Twin Cities Auto Show.

Thousands of Minnesotans soaked in the spring sun and enjoyed fair food at the 49th Twin Cities Auto Show from May 14 through May 22. As an avid gearhead and someone who works on electric vehicle (EV) policy, I could not pass up the opportunity to attend something like that after staying away from events for nearly two years due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Twin Cities Auto Show provides attendees with the opportunity to see and feel new vehicles up close, without the pressure to purchase them. People can learn about new models from automobile dealership representatives and volunteers like myself.

This year, nearly every automaker brought an EV to the show. So, it was difficult not to stop and be distracted by the array of new EVs as I made my way to the Electric Vehicle Neighborhood powered by Xcel Energy to volunteer alongside my colleagues from Drive Electric Minnesota and the Minnesota Electric Vehicle Owners.

At the front of the Electric Vehicle Neighborhood stood the Xcel Energy Pavilion, where Mitsubishi Motors North America made the US debut for its 2023 Outlander Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV) – the Twin Cities region is the top selling Outlander PHEV market in the country. The Xcel Energy Pavilion also had mock Level 1 and Level 2 chargers that visitors could plug into the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV to understand how EV charging works. Xcel Energy staff answered EV charger installation questions for attendees as well.

The Electric Vehicle Neighborhood was off to a strong start with a well-attended panel discussion about the future of EVs moderated by the Twin Cities media legend, self-proclaimed serial entrepreneur, and EV spokesperson Paul Douglas. Panelists included representatives from Xcel Energy, Great River Energy, the Minnesota Automobile Dealers Association, Minnesota EV Owners, and a professional driver.

Both the panel discussion and impressive line-up of EVs piqued visitors’ curiosity, and soon enough, lines started forming at the EV test drive booth. As we registered the visitors to drive, answered their questions about EVs, and got them in the cars with event staff monitoring the test drives, more visitors joined, and the lines seemed to keep growing into the afternoon.

Many visitors immediately got back into the lines to drive another vehicle. It was an all-you-can-drive buffet with exciting EVs like the Audi e-Tron, Audi e-Tron GT, Ford Mustang Mach-E, Jaguar I-PACE, Jeep Wrangler 4xe, Kia EV6, Kia Niro EV, Hyundai IONIQ, Polestar 2, Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV, and Volkswagen ID.4 on the menu! I also used the opportunity to hop into the Ford Mustang Mach-E and witness its mind-blowing acceleration firsthand.

After a good day of driving, talking, and learning about EVs, it was time to head home. But not without stopping to see the crown jewel of the Twin Cities Auto Show and the electric version of America’s favorite vehicle; the Ford F-150 Lightning. As one of the very few electric F-150s produced by Ford so far, it was a display-only model. Seeing the electric version of the F-150 workhorse made it very clear to me that EVs are here, and they are here to stay. I will be back to test drive the F-150 Lightning next year!

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