GM’s Britta Gross, Director of Advanced Vehicle Commercialization Policy, gave perhaps my favorite presentation at the EV Transportation & Technology Summit. Her presentation was essentially split into two (or three) sections. She first talked about Drive Electric Florida, then Drive Electric Orlando, and then got into matters concerning GM’s electrification path and plans. This article covers some of the highlights from here talk about Drive Electric Florida and Drive Electric Orlando.
(You can view Britta’s slides here.)
Drive Electric Florida includes a wide variety of stakeholders — utilities, EV manufacturers, EV infrastructure providers, DOE Clean Cities coalitions, environmental organizations, EV experts, and local governments.
The Drive Electric Florida is now working harder to improve EV policy in Florida. One thing Drive Electric Florida, including Florida Tesla Enthusiasts club founder & president Larry Chanin, have started pushing for in the state legislature is a sales tax exemption for EVs.
The organization is also pushing for more workplace charging across the state, and Britta highlighted the stat that employees who work at places that have workplace charging are 20 times more likely to get an electric vehicles than employees at companies that don’t have workplace charging.
As a Floridian who is quite ashamed of my state’s solar energy and electric vehicle policies, it’s great to find out about Drive Electric Florida, and I plan to get involved once I get to Florida (while also getting involved in the Florida Tesla Enthusiasts club).
Drive Electric Orlando is a partner of Drive Electric Florida, but it is obviously more narrowly focused. It is made up of retired US military members who want to see us get off of oil and achieve greater energy security as well as environmentalists passionate about electric vehicles for their benefit to air quality and the global climate. It’s a great example of how the “right” and the “left” can get together to advance electrification of transport.
One key thing Drive Electric Orlando has done is bring electric car rentals to major rental companies in Orlando, the largest electric vehicle rental market in the world. Nissan LEAFs & Chevy Volts are available through Enterprise Rent-A-Car. As Britta rightly notes, one of the absolute best ways to get someone to go electric is to give them the experience of driving an electric car. Electric rental cars are a great way to do that. Importantly, however, renters need to know what they are getting into. As such, these cars can only be reserved online (they aren’t just handed to people walking up to the desk at the airport) and Enterprise is very careful about preparing the renters for electric driving, particularly in the Orlando area.
There are also a lot of partner hotels in the Drive Electric Orlando initiative that have installed EV charging stations, including the hotel we stayed at while in Cocoa Beach for the EV Transportation & Technology Summit.
There are now over 200 EV chargers in the Orlando area. Pretty impressive, especially when you consider the lack of EV incentives at the state level.