Eliott’s Insight 2/26/11

Florida Governor Rick Scott’s decision to become a one-man wrecking crew for the Bullet Train is getting plenty of news coverage. But not as many people are noticing his lack of vision when it comes to the electric car.

I for one have not heard the governor—or any state lawmaker for that matter—make a compelling case for more electric cars in the Sunshine State. While other states like Illinois are getting federal money for electric car charging stations, Florida is lagging sadly behind in electric car technology.

CBS4 Chief Consumer Investigator Al Sunshine recently went behind the wheel of several electric car models that should hit the market later this year. Those cars include the Nissan Leaf, GM Volt and Ford Focus Electric. After taking the cars for a spin, Al interviewed car aficionados who say they would be interested in buying one. But Al also discovered that Florida is missing out on the Green Revolution by not investing in charging stations. He also found that millions of Florida condo owners and apartment dwellers would have no way of charging their vehicles.

South Miami Mayor Philip Stoddard, a staunch environmentalist and FIU biology professor, is an electric car owner who says a ride in one of the vehicles is all you need to become a believer in the high-tech vehicles. Stoddard, who joined me for News & Views this week, believes Florida is making a big mistake by not investing in electric car technology.

“There’s nothing like taking a ride in these cars,” Stoddard told me. “Once you do that, you’re sold.”

Stoddard thinks an investment in charging stations will encourage Floridians to buy electric cars when they come on the market. It will also help save the environment, reduce our dependence on foreign oil and save consumers millions of dollars. The federal government is hoping to boost electric car sales by offering a $7,500 tax credit for anyone who buys one.

“If you start putting in charging stations it shows you’re ready,” Stoddard told me. “Florida hasn’t even put in enough bicycle lanes, and we are a flat state with great weather that is perfect for bicycling.  When we recognize that in 100 years we’ll be underwater, that’s when we will start making changes in our habits and do things that are more energy efficient.”

Stoddard told me the electric car is an idea whose time arrived long ago. If you don’t believe me, check out the 2006  documentary “Who Killed The Electric Car”. You’ll see how the vehicles caught on in California until they mysteriously and sadly disappeared. Now that they are making a comeback, let’s hope Florida doesn’t get left behind.

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