Over the last decade, battery-powered cars have become more common, thanks to the Nissan Leaf and Tesla’s sleek models. But advocates for clean energy say there are still a lot of misconceptions about electric vehicles.
“Some people didn't realize that you don't need an oil change with an electric vehicle, said Susan Glickman of the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy. The nonprofit group is touring the state with an electric vehicle "roadshow” where drivers can get behind the wheel of a Leaf or Tesla. “Some people didn't even realize that you didn't put gas in an electric vehicle, which sounds rather obvious,” she said. “And there are people that have what's referred to as 'range anxiety'. So they're concerned about the distance.”
Last year, 13,705 electric vehicles (often referred to as EVs) were sold in Florida, according to the Alliance of Auto Manufacturers. While that’s double the number sold in 2017, EVs represent a small fraction of the total cars on Florida’s highways. One issue is cost: most EVs are pricier than their gas-fueled counterparts. The federal government offers a tax credit to EV buyers. Utilities in Jacksonville, Kissimmee, and Orlando give their customers rebates. Some local governments give property tax breaks to home or business owners who install EV chargers.
Several cities and counties in Florida are adding electric cars to their vehicles fleets, but environmentalists want the state to do more. The Sierra Club and other groups want Gov. Ron DeSantis to use Florida’s share of an emissions settlement with Volkswagen to buy electric school and transit buses. DeSantis announced last week that the state would use a portion of the Volkswagen settlement to install EV charging stations at rest areas along Florida’s Turnpike. But the draft settlement plan published by the Department of Environmental Protection would allow the purchase of vehicles that burn a cleaner form of diesel.