Fake News & Test-Driving New EVs in Florida

Originally published on CleanTechnica.

We hear more about false news these days than in the past — unless you grew up with me. False news has always been around. I was raised by a father who ranted about “Madison Ave” controlling our lives. “Watch out what you read — make sure it’s true. Question what you hear. Avoid gossip, it leads to lies.” Now, we witness our head of state refusing to answer straightforward questions from reporters and just shouting back that they are “fake news” — a clever way of turning the story on its head after the focus had been on pro-Trump outlets and advisors peddling false news.

How does he know his news is correct and theirs is not? Or does Trump have another reason for avoiding their questions? I don’t have the answer to that. Yes, a historic moment — we are here. The future is now, and we are in charge of creating it.

I’m an Amy Goodman fan. I like when reporters dig for the facts and offer as much context as possible. In that spirit, I recently tried to go deeper — beneath and beyond the press releases — to understand electric car availability and sales in Southwest Florida.

False Information In Florida This Week

In Southwest Florida (north of Naples), driving an all-electric vehicle is simple. It’s convenient (for my lifestyle), particularly in my EV-friendly city. The oddest thing to me is that so very few people know this. There is a general lack of knowledge on the subject. Is there actual awareness suppression? Many people, if not all, are genuinely surprised with what I relate regarding EV infrastructure, charging, range, time, etc.


Quite honestly, the people one might normally look to for information on EVs are often as blind to the topic as anyone.

This week, I called a lot of places trying to schedule test drives of some of 2017 fully electric and plug-in hybrid cars new to the market. With a wide open mind and a bit of experience on my side from driving the Nissan LEAF, I am genuinely interested in better understanding and actually experiencing many of the EVs now for sale and soon coming to market, including ones that have been on the market for years but I haven’t driven as well as newbies. Unfortunately, I got a variety of false claims and uninformed salespeople, and didn’t get into many EVs.

Dealerships vary, so we can’t generalize from any specific personal experience at a dealership, but certain commonalities are well known when it comes to this topic. I’ll preface my latest experience with a positive note: I’ve had only considerate and polite salespeople at each dealership I’ve visited who seemed like they wanted to be helpful. The salespeople have been nice (except perhaps with one case on the phone). They are sometimes short of information, but they are nice.

Hyundai on the Phone …

Me, on the phone: “I’d like to schedule a test-drive for one of your plug-in electric hybrids.”

Saleswoman: “I’m sorry, we don’t stock any as there are not charging stations in the Sarasota area and the area nearby.”

Me: “Excuse me? What? I drive an all-electric vehicle. There are plenty of charging stations in the area.”

Saleswoman: “No, there aren’t. What kind of car do you drive?”

Me: “I drive a Nissan Leaf, all-electric, there are 39 charging stations in the area, probably more. There is one quite near the dealership you are at. I’ve charged at that charging station 3 times recently — it works fine. “

There are 6 charging stations 9 miles from the dealership I called. There’s one just 4 miles away.

The saleswoman sounds flabbergasted. And yet, she continues to rebuke me.

My mouth falls open. “I said, I have an electric car, and you are telling me that I don’t know how many chargers I charged at in Sarasota for over a year?”

She still tried to argue the case with “false news,” false information. I finally gave up.

I didn’t even address the point that plug-in hybrids can drive on gasoline and the vast majority of owners have home charging.

… After Scheduling A Test Drive

The same week, I found a dealership with a plug-in hybrid Sonata and made an appointment (… I thought). It turned out after a long drive to the scheduled test drive that the Sonata was a conventional hybrid, not a plug-in hybrid. It was not the Sonata I wanted to test drive.

Well, the woman I scheduled with was lovely on the phone. I am guessing she did not know there were two kinds of hybrids and misinformed me due to her honest confusion or misinformation. At the dealership, where I did test drive the regular (non-plug-in) hybrid Sonata, I found more informed people.

One man told me that the dealership would get the cars in eventually, but since California has such a severe air pollution problem, the plug-in models are all going there for the time being. I have heard salespeople at other dealerships say this as well.

I will say the Hyundai Sonata Hybrid is a very nice car. It is smooth, drives quietly, moves nicely. It is not as agile as my darling Leaf — but what car is? The seats are comfortable. The view is similar to many other cars — not ideal (as with the boxier styles that some do not like), but okay. I do love the visibility in the BMW i3 and Nissan Leaf.


Several days later, I went to a Ford dealership. I had called ahead of time and they said they had a 2017 Fusion Energi. After getting there and waiting for half an hour, the salesperson I met with in person told me they had just sold a 2017 Ford Fusion Energi plug-in hybrid. The new 2017 that was in stock had apparently sold the day before I arrived.

However, the dealership did still have a classy 2015 Ford Fusion Energi Titanium that could park itself. The price was down from an MSRP of $41,825 to $35,171.


I checked BMW and there was no confusion there or any miscommunication. They were correct and helpful. In about 60 days, they are getting the BMW 330e in. The body will look just like this (a non-electric BMW 330):

Indeed, all of BMW’s “e” models are plug-in hybrid versions of gas cars. They just have small electric motors and batteries added. We’ll have to wait to see what the test drive experience is like, but it’s a good sign that the BMW salespeople at least seem to know what a plug-in hybrid is.

Related Story:

Image of a Nissan Leaf, Chevy Volt, and Tesla Model S charging by Cynthia Shahan for CleanTechnica.pics

Reprinted with permission.

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