The Department of Energy reported that electric vehicle sales increased 85% nationally between 2020 and 2021. Florida ranks second behind California with nearly 96,000 electric vehicles registered, compared to 58,000 a year ago.
Electric vehicles represent only about one percent cars on Florida roads.
Along with the high price of electric vehicles, range anxiety and access to charging are the main reasons drivers are unwilling to make the switch. In an effort to strengthen charging infrastructure, support electric vehicle adoption and confidence in range, FPL is expanding Florida’s electric vehicle infrastructure. “We are installing over 1,000 charging ports in over 200 locations across Florida, and there will be many more to come,” said Anuj Chokshi, Director of Distributed Technologies and Electric Mobility at FPL. FPL started installing electric vehicle charging stations in 2020.
The majority of these ports are Level 2 slow chargers. They are used to “recharge” batteries at work or around town and add approximately 10-20 miles of electric range per hour of charge, depending on the vehicle. So if you’re running errands and plugging in for three hours, you can add an extra 30-60 miles of range. In a gasoline-powered car, that would equate to one to two gallons of gasoline. FPL’s Level 2 chargers are available for free in more than a dozen South Florida cities.
To alleviate range anxiety, FPL will have 34 quick-charge sites operational by the end of the summer. They will be spaced approximately 25 miles apart along busy highways.
“These are much higher-speed stations that allow vehicles to recharge or have a substantial charge in about 20 to 30 minutes,” Chokshi said.
Randy Peddicord bought his all-electric Volkswagen ID4 eight months ago for his drive from Jensen Beach to Sebring – a 200 mile round trip. He thinks electric vehicles are best for traveling short distances. “When you look at your gas-powered cars, you can be in that car for 5 hours, 6 hours before you need to fill up depending on what you’re driving. That’s why I would never prevail on a long trip,” Peddicord said.
He charges at home during off-peak hours and avoids using public chargers.
Nick Bonardi has traveled from Florida to California three times since buying his Tesla Model 3 in February 2020. He has used the Tesla Supercharger Network. “There were a few tough spots – in rural Utah there weren’t too many, but overall I didn’t have any major issues. I didn’t need to go anywhere immediately,” he said.
Bonardi said electric vehicles can get a bit tricky — and they’re not for everyone. “It takes a few months to adjust to driving the car knowing exactly how much range you have, you almost have to be a bit conservative,” Bonardi said. The Tesla guided Bonardi on his journey – after entering his destination, the car’s screen displayed various Tesla charging locations. In rural areas, Bonardi used the PlugShare app to find third-party chargers.
Bonardi’s Tesla Model 3 has an average range of around 240 miles. On his trip to California, he stopped every 2 hours to charge his battery to 50%, which took about 20-30 minutes with a public Tesla fast charger. Expenses? A full charge cost him between $18 and $44. Bonardi said that in California, prices are reaching $0.58 per kWh on the Tesla Supercharger Network. He said repeated fast charging can affect long-term battery life.
Kellen Schefter is Senior Director of Electric Transportation at the Edison Electric Institute. Their National Electric Highway Coalition is committed to providing fast electric vehicle charging stations along major travel corridors in the United States by the end of 2023. FPL is a member.
“These DC fast chargers are really designed to provide what you need to get back on the road in a short time, say 15 to 45 minutes, somewhere you can stop for lunch and continue your journey,” Schefter said. .
According to Schefter, the number of electric vehicles on the road will reach nearly 27 million nationwide by 2030. He said that to meet demand, we will need 13 million charging ports. He believes that standardizing fast-charging networks is essential for nationwide adoption of electric vehicles.
“I think, a challenge for drivers today when you get into any given station, what are you going to experience? What am I going to pay? How will it work? Will it work with my vehicle? So there’s a lot of sorting, I think, that this industry has to do,” Schefter said.
At FPL’s fast-charging stations, drivers pay for electricity supplied to their vehicles at a set rate of $0.30 per kWh, which is subject to applicable taxes and fees, including gross receipts tax, franchise fees, utility tax and Florida sales tax.
Last month, the Biden administration adopted a goal of building a national grid of 500,000 electric vehicle chargers by 2030, as part of the bipartisan infrastructure law. The idea is to make electric vehicle charging accessible and alleviate the range anxiety that still keeps many Americans from buying one.
$5 billion will be distributed to states over five years to expand their electric vehicle infrastructure — and Florida could receive $198 million.