Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Florida's Electric Vehicle Revolution

Despite popular belief, Florida can be leader in something good.

The electric vehicle industry is growing quickly across the country and Florida has emerged as a front-runner in electric vehicle adoption and readiness.  Chargepoint America, a grant program made possible by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and administered by the Department of Energy, is aiming to accelerate the development and production of electric vehicles to substantially reduce petroleum consumption, reduce greenhouse gas production, and create jobs1.  

Tampa/Orlando was selected as one of 10 regions to receive funding for electric vehicle charging infrastructure.  Tampa/St. Petersburg currently has over 200 charging stations in operation; most of which are available free of charge.

Automobiles, above all else, represent America’s addiction to dirty oil – especially here in Florida.  We are far behind most other populous states when it comes to green transportation alternatives, like inter-city mass transit, commuter rail, and safe walking/bicycle paths.  Plug-in electric vehicles (EVs), which require no gasoline and emit no pollution from their tailpipes, present a critical opportunity to cut pollution and clean up our air.

The Florida Healthy Air Campaign is kicking into high gear to make sure that the electric vehicle revolution endures and we are taking every opportunity to educate our communities about the ease and convenience of owning an electric vehicle.  Around the state, Sierra Club members and supporters are hosting numerous house parties to show “Revenge of the Electric Car,” a riveting documentary that details the resurgence of the electric car through the eyes of four pioneers.  At several of the house parties, electric vehicles have been on hand before and after the film for sit-ins and test drives.

Watch the trailer for "Revenge of the Electric Car" here:

A fully electric vehicle uses electricity to power a battery –typically one made of lithium ion. No gasoline, no dirty oil changes, no internal combustion engine. Most new fully electric vehicles can drive 70-130 miles on one charge. An extended range electric vehicle or a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle run on electricity for a certain number of miles, and as their battery runs out of juice, a gasoline powered engine or generator kicks in.

Frank's new Volt plugged in to 110V outlet in his garage
Our very own Florida Staff Director, Frank Jackalone, decided to trade in his gas-guzzling ’97 Volvo for a new Chevy Volt, an extended range plug-in electric vehicle.  During his daily commute, the Volt has used an average of 1 mile of battery charge for every 5 miles driven. That's just 0.2 KWH of electricity to drive each mile, and at 13 cents a KWH he's paying just $2.60 for electricity to power the car 100 miles.  Frank just plugs the car into to a normal 110V outlet in his garage every night.  The Volt has a driving efficiency feature that shows how you are doing while driving, and Frank says that it has motivated him to improve his driving style to extend how far the Volt goes on the battery without kicking over to the gasoline powered generator.   

The electric vehicle revolution is here and now. Welcome, Florida, to the 21st century!