EV Coalition Targets Orlando (Hawaii Should be Next)
I am reporting this week from Hawaii’s tourist capital, and in fact spent the evening at a luau on Waikiki Beach. Parked in front of the Royal Hawaiian was a Chevy Volt, proof positive that electric cars have made inroads into travel destinations like this one.
Hawaii, which has 1,783 EVs on the road and is a Top Ten market nationally for the Nissan LEAF, could model its plug-in plans on Orlando, which late last week announced plans to put its 57 million annual visitors into green cars. What Orlando now appears to have is wide community buy-in and awareness, essential to get the cars over the hump and building volume. But many aspects of the Orlando plan have yet to be implemented.
Drive Electric Orlando is a new coalition involving the Electrification Coalition (EC), Enterprise Rent-a-Car, Nissan and Sabre Holdings (which represents travel agents). EC was the catalyst, reasoning that Orlando visitors who had a positive electric vehicle experience in Orlando could become ambassadors for plugging in their own communities.
According to Drive Electric Orlando, it has persuaded 27 hotels to install electric vehicle charging, including 30 480-volt fast chargers donated by partner Nissan. The Nissan chargers are coming soon, and just in time: PlugShare, the station finding tool used on the organization's website, does not currently list a single quick charger.
“Hotels are an important part of completing the loop for EVs,” said John Gartner, who leads the smart transportation group at Navigant Research. “It makes sense if tourists can rent them at airports and then be guaranteed a place to charge them daily at their hotels.”
Major destinations signed on to the coalition include Disney World, Sea World and Universal.
Sam Ori, an EC vice president, said that the new coalition will be placing charging stations strategically where they make the most sense for tourists. No timetable was mentioned. Part of the package is 15 Nissan LEAFs parked at Enterprise’s rental counter at Orlando International Airport. They rent for $30 a day, according to Lisa Martini, an Enterprise spokesperson, a price that carries no electric premium. Some hotels will be parking them via a free valet service.
Pick Up Your Car at the Airport
Martini said Enterprise has put 15 Nissan LEAFs at Orlando International Airport. The rental price, $30 a day (including GPS), is comparable to conventional cars, she said. Customers opting for EVs should be able to charge them at virtually any major hotel in the city (including via valet parking).
Ori sees the Florida experiment as a template for other tourist destinations and, indeed, it’s viewed that way here in Hawaii. Speaking at the Asian Pacific Clean Energy Summit, Ethan Elkind of the University of California Berkeley School of Law, co-author of a new report on EVs in Hawaii, points to the islands’ eight million tourists annually as future ambassadors for EVs—if an Orlando-like coalition can be formed.
“We see a major opportunity for people to come here, rent an EV, and demystify the process,” he said. “They’ll get over any preconceived notions that electric cars are clunky or might explode.”
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