Tampa unveils 10 charging stations for electric cars with NovaCharge partner AA&I Electric!

By KEITH MORELLI | The Tampa Tribune
Published: October 12, 2011
Updated: October 12, 2011 – 4:25 PM

TAMPA — A version of the future arrived today. At eight city parking lots, 10 charging stations for electric cars sparked to life, marking the first time in Tampa’s history that such futuristic innovations were plunked down amid parking meters and pay stations.

It’s only the beginning, city officials and industry captains vowed. Today, 10 stations. Tomorrow … who knows?

Cue “The Jetsons” theme. “Meet Bob Buckhorn … “Tampa’s mayor pulled up to the downtown Jackson Street parking lot in a borrowed, silent Chevrolet Volt, parked it next to the charging station, plugged it in and juiced up the fire-engine red compact car. “It’s as easy as that,” he said. Of course, nobody can predict what the future holds, but one vision is that electric cars will hum along Tampa’s urban landscape a decade or two down the road and charging stations will be just as common as parking spots. “We’ve got to reduce the carbon footprint,” Buckhorn said to a small gathering of city employees and reporters this morning. “We can’t keep doing what we’ve always done.”

He admitted later that the electric car industry is in a conundrum. People are hesitant to buy electric cars because of a lack of charging stations and there’s only a few working charging stations, which cost $8,000 each, because of the dearth of electric cars on the road. Industry speculators are hoping that will change.

“My feeling is that electric vehicles will play a very important part in the future of transportation,” said Helda Rodriguez, president and cofounder of NovaCharge, the Tampa company that is installing the charging stations in the city. “It isn’t the only technology we looking at, though,” she said. “Your vehicle has to match your lifestyle. Some vehicles will run with clean natural gas or another alternative fuel that may be available. But, electric cars will be a big part of fleets and most consumers’ lives. They do solve so many problems for us. “I don’t envision an all-electric future,” she said. “The future will be a blend of many good technologies each serving a certain function. We have started moving in the right direction.”

The unveiling of the charging stations on Wednesday marked the first time such contraptions have been placed on city property. But they’re not the first in Tampa. “We have every type of location,” Rodriguez said, “including corporate parking lots, restaurants, hotels, some shopping areas. It really runs the gamut. We have charging stations in some of the garages of the downtown high rises, the office buildings.”

She said the hope is to have 150 charging stations in and around the city by the end of the year. Thanks to a $15 million U.S. Department of Energy grant, there is no cost to the city. Under the program, Tampa became one of seven cities across the nation installing the charging stations in public parking lots and monitoring their usage over the next two years. Tampa won’t charge a service fee for use of the charging stations, but, motorists will have to pay the normal parking fee in the public lots. Each charging station can power-up all types of electric vehicles from cars to scooters to Segways; even electric bicycles, Rodriguez said. Ultimately, she said, the hope is that the industry will reduce carbon emissions from gasoline powered vehicles and create jobs in the Tampa Bay area.

“We want to see a new burst in our economy with jobs for electric vehicle mechanics and sales people for this new industry,” she said. “Each charging station provides jobs for electricians, concrete cutters and others.” The stations are in a network which allows NovaCharge to monitor which ones are being used and which ones aren’t. So, five, 10 years down the road, the company can tell where to install more stations, she said. “We’re not big believers of blanketing areas so much that we have more than we need,” she said. “We want to invest money where it will be well spent. If we see one area where there is a tremendous amount of use, we want to grow in that area, as opposed to trying to guess.”

Typically, vehicles with drained batteries will need to be on the charger for four to six hours, she said, to get a full charge. The Jackson Street lot charges $1.60 an hour to park.” So, if you’re crossing the Bay to work every day,” she said, “you can park your car where you work and leave it until it’s fully charged.”

Richard Nimphie, owner of Suncoast Electric Vehicles in St. Petersburg, said that his dealership has sold eight Wheegos electric cars and has orders for several more. He said the total number of fully electric vehicles in the Tampa Bay area likely is fewer than 100. Among the concerns of consumers is the lack of charging stations, he said. “Range anxiety,” he said. “They’re asking, ‘How far can I go on a charge?'” But most people who would use an electric car to commute to work wouldn’t need to worry, he said. Cars can go around 100 or more miles on a charge, he said, and 70 percent of working people only drive 15 to 20 miles to work. “Most people live close enough to where they work that they can charge their cars at their homes overnight,” he said. He said Hillsborough Community College just took delivery of an electric van and his sales staff is constantly making proposals to municipalities across the state to sell them electric fleet cars.

Tampa’s fleet of vehicles has no fully electric cars, but does include some hybrids, said Irvin Lee, director of Tampa’s public works department. The city gets vehicles through a bid process and manufacturers are welcome to offer up their electric models. But they just aren’t cheap enough to win bids, Lee said. “We put out the specs and if Chevy wants to bid a Volt, I’m sure they could or would,” he said, “but it’s not going to be at a cost we’re looking for.” A new Volt costs about $32,000.

Hillsborough County commissioners in June voted to install 10 charging stations around the county. Some went into parking lots of four libraries, a downtown parking garage and at the county’s Environmental Protection Commission headquarters. Charging stations also were expected on the Dale Mabry campus of Hillsborough Community College and at the St. Pete Times Forum.

Ford Names 20 Cool Places to Charge Your Electric Vehicle! Congratulations to NovaCharge 3 of 20!

Wish You Were Charging Here: Ford Names 20 Cool Places to Charge Your Electric VehicleFord names 20 cool places to charge your electric vehicle.

  • Ford has named its 20 cool places to charge an electric vehicle, including CenturyLink Field in Seattle, wineries in Napa Valley, downtown Chicago and a resort in Hawaii
  • Charging locations were evaluated based on a number of factors including proximity to a scenic view, landmark/attraction, or dining and shopping centers
  • Ford’s aggressive electrification strategy includes the launch of five electrified vehicles in North America by 2012 and Europe by 2013. The new Focus Electric – the company’s first all-electric passenger car – is a zero-emissions, gasoline-free version of Ford’s global Focus model

DEARBORN, Mich., Oct. 5, 2011 – When Ford’s all-new Focus Electric and C-MAX Energi hit the streets, customers will have plenty of options on where to recharge their vehicle. Whether it’s stopping at the zoo, a museum or shopping in a downtown area, vehicle charging stations are popping up in a variety of locations across the country. So where are the cool places to charge? Ford may have found the answer with its list of the “20 Cool Places to Charge in the U.S.”The 20 locations on Ford’s list alphabetically are:

  • Edison Park Fast Lot – New York, NY: Charge in the middle of the Big Apple at this station near Times Square and Broadway.
  • Fashion Island, Newport Beach, CA: Shoppers can hit one of Orange County’s premier outdoor shopping centers while their car charges outside.
  • Fisherman’s Wharf, San Francisco, CA: This destination lets visitors recharge while they enjoy waterfront dining, shopping, and sightseeing in the city by the bay’s popular tourist area.
  • Give Kids the World Village, Kissimmee, FL: This nonprofit center gives children with life-threatening illnesses a memorable experience they will never forget. It also set up EV charging for friends, families and contributors.
  • Greenville Zoo, Greenville, SC: A charge station at this zoo lets visitors spend time with wild animals while their vehicle charges.
  • Hall Wines and Clif Family Winery, St. Helena, CA: Charging stations at these two wineries let visitors take in the scenery while their vehicle charges.
  • Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort, Honolulu, Hawaii: Schedule rest and relaxation at this beach resort as your electric vehicle charges outside.
  • Houston Arboretum and Nature Center, Houston, TX: Visitors can have a day of fun with nature and animals while their vehicle charges.
  • Los Angeles Convention Center, Los Angeles, CA: Whether attending a convention or a Lakers game at the nearby Staples Center, this location offers a convenient location for visitors to charge their electric vehicles.
  • Malibu Country Mart, Malibu, CA: A charge station at this unique shopping experience lets visitors look for celebrities or hit the stores while their vehicle charges.
  • Mall of America – Bloomington, MN: EV drivers can enjoy shopping, entertainment, and a variety of other attractions at this mega-mall while their vehicle charges.
  • Magnificent Mile – Downtown Chicago, IL: Located on Michigan Avenue, allows EV drivers to enjoy the experiences of one of the most iconic streets in America.
  • Mint Street Parking Garage – Downtown Charlotte, NC: A first-class view of downtown Charlotte gives these charging station users a unique perspective.
  • NFL Stadiums: CenturyLink Field, Seattle and M&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore, MD: Charging stations at the home of the Seattle Seahawks and Baltimore Ravens let fans tailgate and cheer their team on while their electric vehicle charges.
  • Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak Ridge, TN: This solar-powered electric vehicle charging station offers an extremely energy efficient way to charge.
  • Peaches Bed & Breakfast, Grand Rapids, MI: Spend the night at this historic manor while your electric vehicle charges.
  • Ruby Falls, Chattanooga, TN: Charge your vehicle while visiting the Americas highest underground waterfalls.
  • Santa Monica Plaza Shopping Center, Santa Monica, CA: Beach lovers can head to this charging station for easy access to the Santa Monica Pier.
  • Science Museum of Richmond and Children’s Museum of Richmond, VA: Set between two museums, visitors will have a choice of destination with easy access to charging.
  • Stevens Pass Mountain Resort, Leavenworth, WA: A charging station at this ski resort lets owners hit the slopes and recharge at the same time.

“This list demonstrates that drivers of the Focus Electric can charge at exciting locations across America,” said Jeanette Clute, Ford manager of Sustainable Business Strategies. “The variety of options throughout the country is also a good indicator that cities and communities are accelerating preparation for electric vehicles.” Each location was evaluated based on a variety of factors including proximity to a view or landmark or dining and shopping opportunities. Ford is tracking more than 3,000 public charge stations in 2011, and expects that figure to quadruple by the end of 2013, indicating that this is an exciting and dynamic time for electric vehicle infrastructure. This evaluation also is reflective of Ford’s engagement with helping to ensure that cities have the infrastructure necessary to support electric vehicles.

Where would you like to charge?

Is there a really cool place you would like to see an EV charging station installed?  Maybe near Mt. Rushmore? Outside your favorite sports teams stadium? Or maybe near the beach? If you have a place in mind, Ford wants to know and have you show us your station. Go to the Ford Electric Vehicles Facebook page (www.facebook.com/fordelectricvehicles) and print out the picture of the EV charging station under the “Show us Your Station tab.” Then, take a photo of you with the charging station at the cool place you would like to charge and post the image to the Facebook page. Ford will review all the submissions and list the 10 coolest places submitted to us.

The Power of Choice

Electrification is an important piece of Ford’s overall product sustainability strategy. Ford’s aggressive strategy includes the launch of five electrified vehicles in North America by 2012 and Europe by 2013. Ford launched the Transit Connect Electric small commercial van in 2010, will launch Focus Electric later this year and will introduce C-MAX Hybrid, a second next-generation lithium-ion battery hybrid and C-MAX Energi plug-in hybrid in 2012. The range of electrified vehicles allows Ford to meet a variety of consumer driving needs.

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About Ford Motor Company

Ford Motor Company, a global automotive industry leader based in Dearborn, Mich., manufactures or distributes automobiles across six continents. With about 166,000 employees and about 70 plants worldwide, the company’s automotive brands include Ford and Lincoln. The company provides financial services through Ford Motor Credit Company. For more information regarding Ford’s products, please visit www.ford.com.