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Electric Cars Take Center Stage at Capitol

September 17th, 2015 by flanews

Electric cars and self driving vehicles: it sounds like the future, but as Matt Galka tells us, the Florida Senate’s transportation chief says the future is now, and could mean good things for the state.

St. Petersburg Senator Jeff Brandes (R-St. Petersburg) is a self proclaimed technology junkie. It’s no surprise he was one of the first to jump in one of the new Tesla electric cars on display for Drive Electric Florida Day at the Capitol Thrusday and take it for a spin.

“It drives great. This is a world class car,” he said.

Brandes says he fully supports the growing industry and says Florida has the opportunity to improve its own economy and add jobs by getting ahead of the curve.

“I think you’re going to see the price of this technology continue to go down as the battery technology improves and you’re going to see people want to explore this a little deeper,” he said.

There are about 12,000 electric vehicle drivers in the state. A number Brandes predicts will balloon in the coming years.

Electric vehicle supporters say that making charging stations more common from Pensacola to South Florida would be a good first step to growing the industry in the state.

“It would show leadership and innovation and that would get the word out,” said Britta Gross with General Motors.

Price point has been an issue.  Higher end electric cars can run upwards of $100 grand. But more practical models can cost less than $30,000. Backers also point to the savings.

“If you’re spending $300 dollars a month on fuel maintenance and repair, you’re generally looking at about $20 dollars in an electric vehicle,” said Nissan’s Cornelius Willingham.

Brandes says lawmakers can accelerate growth this upcoming session by working to implement a more electric friendly infrastructure throughout the state.

Lawmakers could consider a bill this year that prevents Homeowners Associations and condo and apartment owners from prohibiting installations of vehicle charging stations.

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