South Florida Looking To Lead The Charge For Electric Cars

DANIA BEACH (CBS4) – A South Florida company says it’s ready to lead the charge in powering electric cars.

Andy Kinard, president of the Miami Beach-based Car Charging Group, believes the higher gas prices go, the more inclined drivers will be to turn to electric cars.

“It’s going to be ultimately good for America that we finally wean ourselves of this oil addiction,” Kinard told CBS 4’s Carey Codd. “It’s going to take something like 4 or 5 dollar gallon gas to make us do it.”

Kinard’s company has installed dozens of car charging stations across South Florida — including in parking garages in Dania Beach, Deerfield Beach and the Aventura Mall. Nationally, Kinard says they’ve installed stations in parking garages in New York City and the Mall of the Americas in Minnesota.

He admits that right now the company is chasing the limited electric cars that are available but eventually he believes the charging stations will be placed where people need them.

“We’ll put these units in at apartments and condos so (drivers) can charge at night while they’re waiting to go to work,” Kinard explained. “We’ll put them in parking garages so (drivers) can charge them while they’re at work.”

Kinard said he expects to charge about $3 an hour to charge a vehicle, which take roughly between 4-6 hours to gain a complete charge.

He said there’s country’s electrical grids can handle the load.

“If every family in the United States bought an electric car and charged it at night we wouldn’t need to build any more power plants,” Kinard said. “We’ve got enough capacity in the system.”

Kinard has a believer in Brett Circe, who purchased one of the first Chevy Volt’s to come off the assembly line. Circe’s name sat on a waiting list for months before picking up his Volt in Washington, D.C. and driving it to his home in Fort Lauderdale last December. The Volt is not yet available for sale in Florida.

Circe says he’s saved a ton on gas — “about $4 to $5 thousand dollars a year” — and says the car is a joy to drive. He describes it as a “luxury” car.

The cost of a Volt — about $40,000 with a tax credit of $7,500 — is prohibitive for many and Circe says General Motors needs to do a good job of informing the public about the benefits of going electric.

“I think there’s an uphill battle for GM to educate the public about a vehicle like this,” Circe said. “Frankly, people don’t understand it.”

The Volt is quiet, high-tech and easy to drive. It’s interior displays appear more like a futuristic computer game than a car dashboard. And the car’s design is unique. With a battery running the length of the car, seating is tight.

The car features a battery that will last 40 miles. After the battery runs down, a backup generator kicks on. The generator is fueled by an 8-gallon gas tank.

Circe likens the setup to using a generator during a hurricane.

“The battery of the car and the electric motor are plugged into a generator,” he explained. “When the battery drains down and is almost dead, the generator kicks on and provides power to the motor and provides power to the battery to keep you going.”

Circe said the battery life is plenty for him to drive to work, lunch, errands and home. He charges his Volt at home each night and has not seen a spike in his electric bill.

“It’s been fantastic,” he said. “The longest period of time was 40 days without buying a gallon gas.”

He usually keeps a few gallons of gas in the car and fills the vehicle when he goes on a road trip. With a full battery and gas tank, the Volt gets about 350 miles.

Plus, Circe said he bought the car because of the power of patriotism.

“This car is fueled in America,” he said. “The electrical grid is 100 percent fueled in America. So, (the Volt) is made in Detroit and it’s fueled in America.”

Andy Kinard believes mass production of electric cars will lower the price. And with gas prices climbing, he believes drivers are ready for a change.

“You’ll see an electric car every day in a year from now,” Kinard said.

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