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USA: Boulder company hopes electric vans will spark

DENVER (AP) — As President Barack Obama blitzed recently for clean-technology manufacturing jobs, two men oblivious to the speeches were staking their futures on a Colorado factory that produces battery-powered delivery vans.

Precision Plumbing and Heating president Tom Robichaud is investing $1.4 million to buy 20 of these humming 7,000-pound vans to convert his current diesel fleet. Diesel costs have gone up to $3.75 a gallon.

Plumbers on Monday rolled out in the first van, which can go up to 70 mph, covering 100 miles before an eight-hour recharge is required (using solar panels on the company roof).

“The sooner I flip the fleet, the more money I save,” Robichaud said.

Meanwhile, Boulder Electric Vehicle chief executive Carter Brown was supervising assembly lines in Lafayette, where 30 employees work to fill the orders from Robichaud and 30 more rigs for Morning Fresh Dairy in Bellvue and municipal customers nationwide.

But both men lament that Colorado’s electric-vehicle sector is taking a long time to take off and warn that Chinese competitors appear poised to dominate the industry. Brown points to the example of solar panels, which were developed substantially at research labs in Colorado but now are made mostly in China and exported around the world.



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