Test Drive a Chevy Volt at the Central Florida Zoo on May 14th

Thursday, May 5, 2011 3 comments
THE BEST way to appreciate the drivability and cool benefits of the new electric vehicles is to get behind the wheel of one.

If you live in the Orlando area, here's your chance to get behind the wheel of a Chevy Volt.  If haven't seen it, I highly suggest you try come out to drive the car...I certainly was impressed with the car!

Join me at the Central Florida Zoo at their annual "Party for the Planet" event on Saturday May 14th from 10am till 3pm.  You can test drive the Chevy Volt along with visiting over 30 vendors representing sustainable businesses.

Where: Central Florida Zoo (map)
When: May 14 10am - 3pm

See you there!

Orlando is Almost Ready!

Sunday, May 1, 2011 1 comments
Around 2 years ago in May 09, I was wondering if my next car could be a plug-in.  After all, Florida isn't known for being progressive and it takes a coordinated effort to get the chickens (EVs) and the eggs (EVSE) together in a city at the same time to successfully roll out Electric Vehicles.

So, as an activist, I started research on EVs for an upcoming Florida Renewable Energy Expo - they were interested in a presentation on EVs and I was interested in performing the market research....little did I know that I was starting a career change :-) 

It was during this research that I met and joined the group that became "Get Ready Central Florida".  The core of the group is made up of progressive and pragmatic thinking individuals from utilities (OUC and Progress Energy) and governments (Orange County and City of Orlando) who clearly understand the cost and benefits of EVs.

Here are the BIG things that we've accomplished in Orlando...

  • Signed an Memorandum of Understanding with Rocky Mountain Institute to become a "Get Ready" city.  This focused our efforts on properly rolling out EVs in our metro area.
  • Signed an Memorandum of Understanding with Nissan...which made Orlando the first (and current only) launch city in Florida for the Leaf.
  • Held several public Stakeholder Meetings to get people educated and involved.
  • Seized the opportunity to be a "ChargePoint America" city that helped seed our Public Charging Infrastructure.
Because of these early efforts, Orlando is now nationally identified as an early adopter city for Electric Vehicles.  Here are a few examples...

  • We're in the "First Wave" EV Cities in a Roland Berger/Rocky Mountain Institute study.
  • We're a target city for the launch of the Ford Focus EV.
  • We've got a Fisker Automotive Dealership (Karma).
  • We should be getting our deliveries of previously reserved Nissan Leaf's in the September time frame.  We have several dealerships trained and ready to go. 
  • We should be selling the Chevy Volt in the third Quarter of this year (July-Sept).  We have several dealerships trained and ready to go.
  • Frito-Lay in Orlando will soon have 10 Smith Electric delivery vehicles dropping off snack food around town.
  • By the end of the year, we'll have 300+ public charging stations deployed around Central Florida thanks to OUC and ChargePoint America.  Installation of these charging stations is underway now.  This will be a good start to reduce range anxiety for the new EV buyers.
I can now say with 20/20 hindsight that without the efforts of this group (Get Ready Central Florida), Orlando would NOT be anywhere near ready for EVs.  From my perspective, here are a few things that made us successful.

  • Having a big picture plan.  The Project Get Ready menu is a good start.  It should encompass infrastructure, utilities, vehicles/fleets, and most importantly COMMUNICATION!
  • Having progressive executive champions.  Having the endorsement of the Mayors from City of Orlando (Buddy Dyer) and the Orange County Mayor (Richard Crotty) certainly helped to get PM resources to focus on this effort.
  • Stakeholder meetings.  The primary objective is to inform people about the available incentives, programs, products, and facts about EVs and EVSE.  You would not believe the common ignorance and misinformation about EVs and EVSE.
  • Opportunities to drive new cars.  The best way to appreciate an Electric Vehicle is to drive one....they are that impressive.  Make sure the public knows when these opportunities are available.
All this said, Orlando should be ready to receive and support Electric Vehicles in just a few months...I'm certainly ready for mine!

How is your city preparing for EVs?