SOUTH HADLEY — The Council on Aging has gone green after taking delivery of a Hyundai Ioniq5 Electric Vehicle.
A $50,000 earmark secured by the town’s statehouse delegation covered the Ioniq5′s cost.
Gary Rome, owner of a Hyundai auto dealership in Holyoke, presented the keys to COA executive director Leslie Hennessey on Monday morning. The gray, four-door electric SUV arrived as gasoline prices exceeded $4.25 per gallon.
Rome said the COA wanted an electric vehicle to transport members and ample storage space. After a long search and numerous test drives, the Ioniq5 fit the bill.
State Rep. Daniel Carey, D-Easthampton, and state Sen. Jo Comerford, D-Northampton, obtained an earmark in the latest budget.
With the help of the South Hadley Electric Light Department, the senior center received a grant to install two charging stations set up on the center’s northside.
The 2022 Ioniq5 has an over 300-mile range when fully charged and comes with Hyundai’s most advanced technology, including futuristic displays, according to Rome.
“It won an award as the best fully electric vehicle of the year,” he said.
Rome added that electric vehicles destined for the dealership are already sold. Last month alone, Rome sold 12 electric cars as demand increases by the day.
“We’re getting calls from all over the country. We have folks from Ohio, and we sold one to a client in Virginia,” he said.
A sales associate trained COA staff on driving and maintaining the vehicle. “It makes sense with gas being $5 a gallon. You can charge your vehicle on one of our fast chargers at 34 cents a minute or $7 to a full charge as opposed to $70 to fill your tank,” Rome said.
He added, “This is the future, but the infrastructure needs to catch up. People still have range anxiety, and they’re concerned they will run out of a charge. It’s the same that you wouldn’t leave your house with an empty gas tank.”
Hennessey said most electric vehicles were on the smaller side with little storage space. A $5,000 state environmental grant covered the charging stations’ cost.
“Gary Rome worked within our budget, and this is the car we were able to purchase,” she said. “We always thought about having a green vehicle, and we could be a leader in the community and get the financial and ecological benefits. So we were excited when Rep. Carey put this in the budget for us.”
Hennessey thanked Robert and Liane Pueschel, the COA board president and secretary, for leading the effort.
The COA will use the Ioniq5 to get seniors to and from medical appointments, grocery shopping and other activities.
“We have a busy senior community in South Hadley, and they need to get going,” Hennessey said.
Liane Pueschel rode in several electric vehicles before deciding on the Ioniq5. “This one was roomier and very smooth. We needed a vehicle for the elderly to get in and out more easily,” she said. “It was a great experience, very educational and fun.”
Robert Pueschel said, “We were using these large buses, and they were only transporting one or two people at a time. Gas-wise, it wasn’t very efficient. We got the grant and we went after this vehicle.”