Originally published on CleanTechnica.com.
Just before leasing a Nissan LEAF, a news item presented to me as credible from a TV news station stirred me up. I wanted to say, “Think of who sponsors such stories!” It is not community sponsored, that’s for sure. The report said that there are not enough EV chargers in my area of the state. I was shopping for an EV at the time. Folks who are considering an electric car might shy away from buying or leasing if they believe such stories. I’m overcharged at this point, exploring the various and plentiful EV chargers around me — I am dispelling “charge anxiety” with the Nissan LEAF, even without home charging. Don’t listen to the TV — look at the PlugShare maps in your area. Find more on that on CleanTechnica.com, EVObsession.com, and Gas2.org.
Going north, directly over the Sunshine Skyway Bridge are two quiet spots. My favorite: Eckerd College, with EV (ChargePoint) charging stations under solar panels in the Environmental Science wing of the St. Petersburg Campus. That’s my car above, charging easily, no problems, no lack of EV chargers — Thanks to the useful and popular PlugShare and ChargePoint charging apps, and the voice-guided charging info on the dash of my Nissan LEAF, I have many more to choose from when I go up to St. Petersburg or Tampa, FL. It’s a similar story if I go south, and certainly within my home base of Sarasota.
This idea that there is a lack of charging stations in my area is not coming from someone with an EV, and handy maps, and apps. I wish there were more EVs in the community, to show of the current network of charging stations while inspiring the development of new ones. Due to stories like the one mentioned above that came my way via a tele rumor mill, I thank my lucky stars and CleanTechnica, EVObsession, and Gas2.org that I know better.
There is no lack of charging spots in the central west coast urban areas of Florida. The only lacking length of road to my knowledge is Alligator Alley, going from West Florida to Miami through the Everglades and Big Cypress. And that’s even a challenging stretch for a gas car if you don’t plan well, with only one gas station in the middle of ~100 miles between Naples and Ft Lauderdale. However, our Nissan dealer told us of a lady who came over from Miami to buy a LEAF in Sarasota (because it had the blue color she wanted) and made it back to Miami via Alligator Alley fine. Naturally, she was cautious, cutting off the air conditioning and surely using a number of hypermiling techniques, but apparently even Alligator Alley is do-able in an 84-mile Nissan LEAF.
But back to my region: I found a plethora in St. Petersburg, and it looks like Ft. Myers is safe for anyone as well. Here’s a montage of image from me and others charging around the region in the past week:
So many short jaunts, and longer trips — and thus far, there are always many charging stations spots easily found in the cities around my home. And more. And more. I keep exploring and finding new ones. I think I’ve found my favorites, though — the Marina with a lovely playground, waterspouts, and all sizes of boats docked nearby; State St.; Palm Avenue; and Selby Library.
Recently, I thought I would check out more spots other than my usual charging spots around town. Surprisingly, academically environmental New College did not seem to have one. I drove around the campus that I have walked or bicycled time and again — not an EV spot in sight. The campus is lovely and perfect for pedestrians and bicyclists. I stopped and chatted with a couple of students, who confirmed there are not any EV chargers on campus. They thought it odd as well, and wondered “why not?” — so did I. [Editor’s Note: New College is where I got my undergraduate degree. The college is extremely liberal — really. It is shocking to hear it doesn’t yet have EV charging spots. –Zachary Shahan]
Makes me even happier to know that Eckerd College is living up to the school’s incredible essential reading list for all graduating students. Sweet well-lit EV spots under the solar panels make me love the college even more.
Back in Sarasota, just down the street from New College is the SRQ Airport — again, no EV charging stations. However, I found several at the “Green” Hampton Inn, neighbor to SRQ Airport (which is practically, or possibly, on the airport’s property). There were also two chargers within blocks at the Goodwill — just a few blocks from New College and the airport. They worked very well. Fast, for my needs.
After reading a post today on EV Obsession about low Nissan LEAF sales, I wonder if there have been too many of those news stories throughout the states — discouraging the less well-informed and adventurous. I was even concerned initially about making a trip up to St Petersburg or down to Naples — but no longer! So, I encourage you: Take the vehicle less traveled and liberate yourself from oil conflicts, (what do you think is happening in Oklahoma?). Stop contribution to bad air. My only problem is I miss my feet on the ground — as I have enjoyed the LEAF too much.
In related stories, Gas2.org shares, “Car Dealers Biggest Barrier To EV Sales.” In that article, our informative and entertaining Steve Hanley writes, “A new study by Eric Cahill for the Institute of Transportation Studies at the University of California at Davis says the biggest reason that EV sales aren’t higher is that traditional car dealers don’t want to sell them. Margins on the cars are razor-thin, so there is little direct profit to be made. To make matters worse, EVs need less routine maintenance and fewer repairs. Some dealers survive on the money their service and parts departments earn, according to the New York Times.”
It is true. When my lease is up, I may opt for a longer-range LEAF, or maybe I’ll still be happy enough with my 84-mile (rated) LEAF and keep it.
Images in the montage are all EV charging spots I used in the last week in Sarasota and St. Petersburg, Florida (Credit: Cynthia Shahan). Except one — I am looking out the window on the 32nd floor in a St. Petersburg condo in one of them — down at the street where I am charging. My host said, there are always empty EV charging spots on that street — that no one else can use!
Final image: My feet, which have been enjoying the LEAF’s smooth drive, but probably not walking enough. Image cropped from a photo by James Flynn.