As I was driving out for a a bike ride on Sunday, I made a point of driving past the parking lot for Moab Gear Traders and the Walker stores to look out for anything Jeep might be showing off at their annual, in-town staging location.
A few days prior, when Easter Jeep Safari began, two solar-powered vehicle charging stations had appeared in the parking lot, fulfilling one of two prophecies that I had heard in lead-up to the event.
The first rumor was that Jeep was looking to install such stations somewhere in Moab. The second was that the company would be showing off its all-electric Jeep Wrangler Magneto concept at Moab’s Easter Jeep Safari. Both, it turns out, were true.
I noted both rumors as I did reporting last month about Rivian, an electric vehicle startup set to release an all-electric truck this summer. Through public records, I saw that Rivian had attempted to get a building permit for a charging station north of Moab, near the intersection of highways 313 and 191.
Rivian eventually gave up on the site after realizing the engineering challenges that would come with building at the location, so they are now apparently searching for a property elsewhere in Moab.
The websites spreading the nonspecific rumors about Rivian’s plans to build in Moab — rumors that turned out to be true — also reported that Jeep was looking to install a charging station in Moab and show off the Magneto at Easter Safari.
When I asked city and county officials if Jeep had contacted them with site plans or building permit questions related to a charging station, none of them said they had. Developers have to request permission to stand up even minor developments, so a lack of contact suggested to me that maybe the rumor about a Moab charging station was not true.
However, apparently without contacting any public officials with jurisdiction in the matter, Jeep did install two charging stations in the Walker parking lot. They appear to be standalone structures — easily installed and easily removed — that could be just temporary.
According to Nora Shepard, the city’s planning director, they are permitted for temporary installation but could become permanent.
That’s the charging stations. If Jeep is going to show up to Easter Safari with Jeep-branded charging stations, surely there had to be more, right? Surely they had to be showing off an all-electric vehicle that they had already announced previously, right?
As promised, Jeep did show up with their all-electric concept vehicle, and it happened to be charging out in the open, ready for a nosey journalist to photograph, as I passed the Walker parking lot on Sunday.
I was right on time. I stepped out to take some photos, and as I was walking around to get a second angle, a man politely informed me that I should hurry up because he was about to unplug it and drive away.
Next step: See if I can go watch (and document) this thing in action.