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Demand for electric vehicles rising in C. Oregon: You can test-drive a Tesla in Bend

K1 Speed hosts the hot cars, keeps them charged and ready to go

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- The demand for electric vehicles is on the rise in Central Oregon, and that has caught the attention of Tesla, who’s partnered with a local business to bring those zero-emission car options to Bend for test drives.

Matthew Wessles, a partner with K1 Speed, said Tuesday that Tesla approached his business and asked if they would consider housing some of their test drive vehicles in their parking lot. He believes it was due to the business's electric powered go-karts.

Having the Tesla models available to consumers in Bend helps out people who are considering purchasing Tesla vehicles from having to make the long drive to Portland, which houses the nearest Tesla showroom.

“Now that we’re reopened, Tesla has been using our parking lot to kind of feel out what the market is,” Wessles said.

He said K1 Speed is responsible for making sure the vehicles get washed and are properly charged for the test drivers. A Tesla representative remotely starts the vehicles.

He added that Tesla is able to track how many people drive the vehicle.

“Every day, the Teslas are getting driven," Wessles said. "People are coming down, whether that’s the younger crowd that are excited to be inside of a Tesla and see it -- because there are some people that the car is out of their reach, but this is an opportunity for everybody to get to see what the technology is about and what the rage is for.”

Tesla is also reportedly considering a showroom in Bend, on Northeast Third Street near the Bend DMV office.

Oregon is part of the Multi-State Zero Emissions vehicle (ZEV) Task Force, with a goal of having over 3 million zero-emission vehicles on the road by 2025.

The ZEV plan also focuses on infrastructure, policies, standards and other components critical to growing the electric vehicle market.

Jeff Robberson, general owner of Robberson Ford, also says he’s seen the demand increase for electric vehicles at his dealership.

“As the range continues to grow with where you can actually go on a trip with them, they are pretty much a viable alternative to a gas-powered vehicle," Robberson said.

The Oregon Department of Transportation also encourages the growing electric vehicle and transportation electrification industry. ODOT says the state's goal to reduce carbon emissions creates an urgency to increase use of alternative fuels in the transportation sector. 

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Leslie Cano

Leslie Cano is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Leslie here.



    1. Too late, over 80% of Oregon residents have California blood in their veins and they are multiplying faster than the Oregon Trail Immigrant strain. Heck, Bend is more California than Oregon already and Prineville heading that way fast.

      1. Naw. Californians won’t move to Prineville. It’s already a crap hole. Californians only turn places into crap holes. That work has already been completed in in Peeville. They will complete the job in Bend, Sisters, and Redmond. Not much work to do in Redmond though. La Pine is a crap hole as well along with Madras. Bend is the only real target of the Leftists.

  1. We need to think about all the people now employed pumping gas. Maybe we can outlaw self service charging and they can monitor the charging stations for safety purposes.

    1. It makes as much sense as outlawing self-serve gas. It’s not like you hear about an epidemic of gasoline fueling disasters in places like Madras and Prineville, where it’s been legal for several years. I’m sure Oregon will want to extend the Nanny State helicopter-parent-type hovering to plugging in a cable as well.

  2. I’ve driven one, and it’s rad. They’re fast, low maint, sexy, and American. They’re also priced right, would hate to be a Beemer/Audi salesman with this as competition.

      1. I have a friend who regularly makes the round trip over the mountain from Portland without recharging. That should be enough for most people. I encourage you to not buy one, because I don’t want you to have any of the nice things in life.

  3. I’d sooooo like to be done with oil changes, brake pad changes, fluid leaks, engine rebuilds, clutch replacements, lousy 0-60 times, etc. Once they get the battery technology cheap enough (which is just more manufacturing volume), EV is an absolute no-brainer. Still too rich for my blood right now, though. But can’t wait to see the Rivian truck.

    1. They typically charge at night, when electric usage is low. This won’t be a problem for a while, but remand for jobs for infrastructure improvements is a good thing.

  4. Whatever makes you feel good. I’m sure these cars are going to save the planet. I’ll bet most if not all people who purchase one live I oversized houses and fly around the country in jets.

  5. When they were building the new charging station at Fred Meyer’s, I wondered how long
    it would be until Tesla decided to open a dealership in Bend.
    Some of their cars are nice looking if a person wants that style of car, but personally
    I think that the cyber truck is hideous looking…
    I would like to drive one strictly out of curiosity but I have no desire to own one.
    If I was in the market for an EV I would look into other manufacturers because I’ve read
    quite a few stories about Tesla’s workmanship going downhill, and that their warranty
    and customer service sucks at best…

  6. It would have been nice to have contact information in the story, so people know
    who to contact to arrange a test drive… How does a person arrange a test drive ?

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