Almost every week I receive a press release from someone in our industry touting the recent installation of an electric vehicle charging station or multiple stations. While electric vehicles are still too expensive to purchase for most people, they can be very cost-effective to lease or rent. One hotelier I know dropped her monthly gasoline costs from $500 to $60 by driving a leased Chevy Volt. (The Volt is a plug-in hybrid.)
Fortunately, the infrastructure to support electric vehicles is growing. Charging stations are becoming more common not only at hotels and resorts but also at auto dealerships and other businesses. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, there are now 5,734 electric stations in the United States (excluding private stations).
“The electrification of our cars and trucks remains the best way to fundamentally deal with the dangers posed by oil dependence,” says Robbie Diamond, president and CEO, Electrification Coalition. “If the United States electrified half of its cars and light trucks, we could reduce petroleum consumption by almost 5 million barrels a day—roughly equivalent to the entire amount we import from OPEC nations today.”
Drive Electric Orlando in Planning Stages
In Orlando, there is an effort under way called Drive Electric Orlando that will give visitors to the greater Orlando area an opportunity to try a plug-in electric vehicle. I spoke with Carson Chandler, partner, Parquet Public Affairs, whose company is managing the development of Drive Electric Orlando, and he told me the program should be up and running this summer. Enterprise Rent-A-Car is already on board and will supply 15 electric vehicles initially, with the idea that it will add more as the program’s popularity increases.
Many stakeholders are supporting Drive Electric Orlando. On the list are Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando, Travelocity, the City of Orlando, Visit Orlando, and many others. Already, 22 hotels and resorts in the Orlando area have charging stations.
“We are hoping to offer free valet [to those driving electric vehicles] at hotels,” says Chandler, whose client in the Drive Electric Orlando effort is the Electrification Coalition. “We are working with hotels to expand the vehicle charging network.”
A Drive Electric Orlando website is in the works, Sabre (Travelocity) has committed to market Drive Electric Orlando to travel agents, and Visit Orlando has offered to market the program as well.
Orlando Attracts 56 Million Visitors Annually
Orlando was selected by the Electrification Coalition because of its potential impact. It is the number one rental car market in the world and attracts 56 million visitors a year. The Orlando area already has about 350 charging stations and Chandler says Drive Electric Orlando “meshes with the city and county’s sustainability goals.”
Orlando is not alone in its efforts to formalize an electric vehicle strategy. Chandler says Austin, Texas and Northern Colorado have similar programs.
I will be sure to keep you apprised of the progress of Drive Electric Orlando. If your property is participating in a similar effort in your community, I would love to learn about it. I can be reached at (216) 848-1406, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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