Owning an electric-vehicle in Orlando makes more sense than one would think. For the last decade, Orlando has been on the forefront of alternative fuel development, including the integration of the electric car. In the course of 2 years, Orlando has become what some might call “electric-vehicle ready”. Against the odds, new EV charge stations are popping up all around Central Florida, most notably in Tampa and Orlando.
The ChargePoint America Grant Program selected 9 cities, with Orlando being the last one on the list. “The City Beautiful” soon became the top city in deployments. As a consequence of the progress, Florida surpassed California, renowned for its sustainability efforts. The program far exceeded the expectations of the DOE ,extending the effort from Central Orlando to Tampa Bay Area, Daytona Beach, Sarasota and Bradenton. The Orlando Utilities Commission is directly involved in the project, subsidizing the installation of Level 2 chargers (220v). These chargers allow fast charging in public locations. You can easily top up the battery with a couple of miles, while having your coffee or lunch. There are nearly 300 charge stations available in Central Florida, and more charge stations are soon to be installed. A detailed map of all publicly available charge stations is available on novacharge.net.
The biggest problem with electric vehicles is their range (40-100 miles) and slow charging times (~8 hours for a full charge). Areas, lacking the appropriate infrastructure, are likely never to become a hot spot for EV enthusiasts. There are still very few electric vehicles on the road, compared to gas burning automobiles. There are lots of people interested in electrical vehicles right up to the point of purchase, however delivery is still pretty slow. “Build it, they will come” (misquoting “Field of Dreams”) is what comes to my mind, looking at the situation in Florida. It seems that is what the authorities hoped for is slowly taking place. Let’s look at the figures:
- 8 or more Volt customers have been delivered with their cars.
- A few dozen LEAF owners also are currently using their vehicles
- Also the existence of a few converted vehicles has been confirmed
It doesn’t look as much, and it is quite possible that even if the actual number of EVs is higher, there are still more charging stations than electric vehicles. On the upside, 300 Nissan Leaf vehicles are expected to be delivered by the end of the year. In addition, this year the Rav4 EV Second Edition is rolling out of the production lines. A lot of people are not too confident with current EV offerings, due to their size and safety, leaving mileage and charging times off the table. The new Rav4 might alleviate some of those worries.
There is no way to predict the penetration of electrical cars; however we can look at extrapolated data, based on hybrid vehicle figures. EVs have the potential of reaching 5% of the total road legal vehicles on US streets by 2012. There are benefits to owning an electrical vehicle. You would get $7,500 tax credit for electrical vehicles purchased in and after 2010. Also you would get carpool lane access.
On a single charge, an EV would be suitable for a short trip in Greater Orlando. If you plan a trip and can spare some time, while on the road, you can easily explore Greater Orlando, Tampra, or Deytona. Every 70 miles you would need to stop and charge the vehicle, but the infrastructure is there and it is not a problem. It would definitely cost you just a fraction of what you would pay for gas. You would end up paying about ¼ of what you usually spend for gas.
For extended trips, you would need to consider other viable transportation options. What EVs lack the most is space, and quite often – range. Speaking of space, you should definitely visit Cape Canaveral. A round trip would cost you only $235 for a party of 10!