DENC: Innovation Meets Reality

by  Kelley Gilbert
Electric cars are supposed to be powerless. They are supposed to be slow, mildly unattractive vehicles that no one you know owns. As a matter of fact, the many people who share this stereotype all have one thing in common: they have never gotten behind the wheel of one.
Driving electric is no longer a prediction for the future. The technology is here and thanks to Drive Electric Northern Colorado (DENC), those stereotypes are rapidly disappearing.
DENC is a first-of-its-kind organization working to achieve widespread awareness and deployment of electric vehicles (EV’s) throughout northern Colorado.
Since the organizations’ launch at the Fort Collins Museum of Discovery in February of 2013, DENC has helped increase the amount of charging stations in the region from one to over 20, allowed over 800 people to get behind the wheel of an electric car and even spurred the special release of Plug-In Pale Ale, the first-ever electric vehicle inspired beer, by Odell Brewing.
“We never could have imagined accomplishing this much in just a year,” said Annie Freyschlag, outreach coordinator at DENC. “We have an incredible group of EV owners that we call ‘EV enthusiasts’ who gather once a month to talk about exciting new technology and help to spread the word. This group is just a segment of the community that has formed in northern Colorado around EV’s.”
DENC’s quick success is at no surprise to the community because of how efficient and innovative electric cars have become.
As opposed to solely hybrid vehicles which still operate on petroleum-based fuels, EV’s incorporate elements of electric energy to power itself. The vehicles are either pure battery electric vehicles (BEV’s) or plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV’s).
Both types of vehicles provide an array of benefits including quieter operation, stronger acceleration and savings on operating costs and maintenance, among others.
DENC has partnered with several dealerships around the area to bring a variety of EV’s to the organizations’ Ride and Drive events. The Ride and Drive events happen each month and are a chance for the community to get behind the wheel of an EV and learn about the benefits of reducing our nation’s dependence on foreign oil and minimizing our environmental impact.
“There are so many options right now for prospective EV owners,” said Freyschlag. “It really is an exciting time to learn about electric cars.”
By developing innovative partnerships with companies across northern Colorado and the organizations’ quick success of its events and awareness initiatives, DENC has formed a following across the region that is sure to spread the word about EV’s and eliminate all existing stereotypes.
“When starting DENC, we wanted to form a replicable and scalable model for EV deployment,” said Freyschlag. “Our hope is that organizations around the nation will adopt a similar model to DENC and create other communities that are educated and excited about the future of electric cars.”
To get involved and learn more about electric vehicles, visit their website at

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