Verv Auto Sales on Highway 965 in North Liberty, Iowa, will have its grand opening tomorrow. When the ribbon is cut, owner Jason Hall and his staff of two will only have a couple of plug-in hybrids available for sale. But Moxie Solar, the sister company, has a fleet of nearly 10 EVs that it’s willing to sell as Verv builds out its inventory.
That’s a modest start for Verv, but as we reported last month, there are big chunks of the US only now beginning to attract early adopters. Verv Auto Sales represents the EV movement now reaching heartland communities.
Tessa Meyer, the EV solutions specialist at Verv (above, right), said that people in the community are “very excited but unsure” about electric vehicles. It’s Meyer’s job to “put people at ease,” she told Electrek. Before starting to work for Verv/Moxie, when she first started to drive an EV, Meyer didn’t notice many electric cars on the road in Iowa. Now she sees them all the time, especially Teslas.
Verv currently has a Chrysler Pacifica plug-in hybrid and a Ford Fusion Energi for sale. The asking prices, probably around $30,000, are based on Kelly Blue Book values.
While the company is emphasizing low-cost yet low-range affordable EVs – usually below $10,000 – it also offers long-range models like the 2018 Tesla Model S in the company fleet, as well as plug-in hybrids. Meyer said she helps consumers figure out what type of plug-in car will best suit their needs.
Meyer uses a calculator tool to show potential buyers how much money they can save on fuel and maintenance by switching to an electric car. When the numbers pop up with big savings, most consumers are convinced.
Myer was driving the 2012 Nissan Leaf in the company’s fleet. She recently sold that EV.
Because Verv is leveraging Moxie’s customer base of 1,500 solar customers, EV buyers can charge their vehicles via home solar.
“The solar aspect is really important,” said Meyer. “If you charge your EV on solar, you’re basically not going to pay anything for fuel for your car.”
Hall, the owner, started Moxie Solar in his garage in 2008. The company grew into a 150-employee venture doing business in eight states. He hopes that the EV business will similarly expand – enough to warrant a dedicated showroom in the Moxie building in North Liberty and then one day a larger standalone facility. He told the Press-Citizen:
“A lot of our fleet comes from California because they are about five years ahead of the rest of the country in this field. But we’re getting more and more from Iowa and the Midwest.”
Meyer added that Verv likes EVs from California because those models have avoided the salt and sand used during Iowa’s snowy winters.
Des Moines-based MidAmerican Energy last year said it would invest $3.75 million to build 15 fast-charging stations across Iowa. The investor-owned utility believes the move will help convert more consumers to electric. The utility started offering $500 rebates last year to residents buying or leasing electric vehicles, and $1,500 rebates to businesses that provide charging stations for electric vehicle owners.
Unfortunately, like several other states, Iowa last April added a supplemental registration fee that, when fully phased in, will cost owners of electric vehicles an additional $130 a year.
The goal was to maintain the Road Use Tax Fund that supports the construction and maintenance of Iowa roads and bridges. But Meyer said, “It’s another one of those things that deter people from buying EVs.”
A ribbon-cutting event for Verv Auto Sales is planned by the Iowa City Area Chamber of Commerce for 4 – 6 p.m. on Feb. 11.
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