Gov. Ron DeSantis amps up voltage on Florida's electric car infrastructure

Posted at 7:06 PM, Jul 24, 2019

OCOEE, Fla. — Florida is about to make travel easier for electric vehicles.

Gov. Ron DeSantis announced Wednesday morning the state, with help from a few private companies, will be outfitting at least seven of the Florida Turnpike’s eight service plazas with fast-charging and Tesla charging stations.

Currently, only three have chargers.

Construction is set to begin before the end of the year and is expected to take two months per work-site.

DeSantis said the hope is to encourage more to switch to electric by helping with the vehicle’s biggest weaknesses — limited range.

“If you have a trip, you know, you’re going to drive 2,300 miles,” DeSantis said. “You’re not going to have to worry. There’s going to be a place — just like if you’re getting in your car now.”

Currently, the U.S. Department of Energy estimates the median rage for a 2018 purely-electric vehicle is 125 miles. It’s an improvement of about 73 miles from 2011 models, but not enough to keep owners from complaining.

“Yeah, you can just go in the city,” said Tesla driver Andrew Dong. “You cannot go far away.”

Even more charging stations are planned for the future, along the state’s busiest highways.

The $25-million to do so would come from Florida’s $166-million Volkswagen emission settlement, pending bureaucratic approval. 

The remaining settlement dollars would be used to cut back on diesel for mass transit and improve air quality. 

“The draft Volkswagen Mitigation Plan is built on a foundation of innovation, collaboration and coordination,” said the state’s Environmental Protection Secretary Noah Valenstein. “[It] will allow Florida to grow its clean air initiatives through maximizing electric vehicle charging stations and prioritizing electric and alternative fuel options for school and transit buses.”

Florida looks to be the fourth state in the nation for all-electric vehicles. The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers estimates there are at least 23,000 of them on the state’s roadways. That’s quite a bit behind the leader, California, with more than 270,000.