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A push for more electric cars on the road needs sponsors

Posted at 11:18 PM, Aug 20, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-20 23:34:54-04

CHARLOTTE COUNTY, Fla. — Punta Gorda is looking to tap into a statewide push for electric vehicles. But to make that happen, they need to add car charging stations.

Florida is number two in the country for electric cars, but a Punta Gorda resident tells me there is no place in his city to charge his vehicle other than his home.

"If you are going on a long drive, don't expect to pull up at any gas station and gas up your car," said Mir Ali. "You have to plan your trip accordingly where you can go to the nearest charging station, and it could be a detour."

He says his car is super low maintenance because it doesn't need oil changes or have an engine to check. But he's often looking for a place to charge.

To fix that, the Punta Gorda city council recently approved a Florida Power and Light program called EVolution to install charging stations.

"This initiative is going to not only reduce emission, meaning it's going to be clean, it's also reliable, and it's also going to be affordable," said Domonic Versailles with FPL.

But Punta Gorda needs local business sponsorships before they can move forward with the program.

Right now, the closest charging station to Punta Gorda is at a Nissan dealership in Port Charlotte. Cameron Byrd is the general manager and says he would be on board with that.

"If you were asking me if I would sponsor an EV charger downtown Punta Gorda.. 100 percent yes," he said. "I would put my name on it, and I would foot the bill for it because it's a great opportunity to advertise your business right there with a captive audience for at least about an hour."

He says people come by daily to fill up their cars, but electric car sales are low because there aren't enough stations nearby.

"I think the people that want to buy them are here, there's pent-up demand, but the infrastructure is going to be a necessity to get them to understand that it's a viable option for them," said Byrd. "Without that, they don't see it as a viable option. If they can plug in anywhere, then you have a higher probability that they are going to adopt an electric vehicle."

Versailles says placing these stations in strategic locations is crucial because the state hopes that one in four cars will be electric by 2030.