All Charged Up About Electric Cars

by Alison Lueders, Great Green Editing

Electric vehicles (EVs) have arrived – including the Chevy Volt, the Nissan LEAF, and the Ford Focus Electric. They offer pretty much all the amenities of gas-powered cars, but with a mileage equivalent of about 100 miles per gallon. We even have our own St. Pete-based Suncoast Electric Vehicles, maker of the Wheego WHIP and the Wheego LiFe.

The number of cars sold so far is small, but growing. GM sold 2,800 Volts nationwide in August 2012 Рa record. And Nissan sold 685 LEAFs that month Рalso a record for the car.  While Pike Research says that California will house 25% of all EVs through 2020, Florida is expected to be one of the top 4 states for EVs along with New York and Texas.

One of the major concerns with electric cars is “range anxiety.” That is, how far can you go, and where can you re-charge them if you are out and about? Gas stations are ubiquitous in America. There is no similar build-out of charging stations – yet.

Happily, both Tampa and St. Petersburg have begun to install the infrastructure needed to support electric vehicles in locations they might frequent. The list of locations in Tampa is:

1. Jackson Street Lot (City Hall)
2. Fort Brooke Parking Garage (2)
3. Tampa Convention Center Garage
4. William F. Poe Garage (2)
5. Twiggs Street Garage
6. South Regional Garage
7. Centro Ybor Garage
8. Palm Avenue Garage

The list of charging locations in St. Pete is:

1. City Hall,175 Fifth St. N.(on street)
2. MunicipalServicesCenterGarage,Fourth St. N.
3. South Core Garage – Level 3,140 Central Ave.
4. South Core Garage – Level 7,140 Central Ave.
5. Mahaffey Theater Garage,400 First St. SE.
6. Beach Drive NE, east side of Beach, south ofSecond Ave.(South Straub Park, (on street)
7. Sixth Avenue South,755 Sixth Ave. S.(on street)
8. Fifth Avenue NE., 700 Fifth Ave. NE. (on street)
9. Grand Central,2503 Central Ave.(on street)
10. Beach Drive NE., east side of Beach, north of Fourth Ave.(North Straub Park, on street)

Electric cars should be another “win-win” for the economy and the environment. Demand for greener cars will create jobs in manufacturing, construction, and many other industries involved in car creation, while eliminating greenhouse gas emissions and reducing demand for oil. Plus, sales of EVs are expected to grow 30% a year between now and 2020.

As the current owner and fan of a Honda Civic Hybrid, I look forward to someday trading it in for an all-electric counterpart. And it’s encouraging to see Tampa Bay step up to join the EV party.