Orlando car renters try electric
ORLANDO, Fla. — Visitors to Orlando often try new things while on vacation: thrilling roller coasters, luxury hotels, different cuisines.
Now they can try out a fully electric car — and not have to pay for gasoline during their vacation.
Under a program announced Thursday called Drive Electric Orlando, anyone who rents one of 15 Nissan Leaf cars from Enterprise Rent-A-Car will be able to charge the car for free. There are about 300 charging stations in the greater Orlando area, with many located at hotels, near theme parks and even downtown outside of City Hall.
“This is a first of its kind. This is groundbreaking,” said Robbie Diamond, the president and CEO of the Washington-based Electrification Coalition, a group that worked with Enterprise, several hotels, corporations and local officials to organize the program.
The group, whose aim is to get more people behind the wheel of electric cars, is made up of business executives, including some from Nissan — which means they have an interest in marketing the rental cars in hopes of courting future buyers.
“Our hope is that it's a revolutionary project — once we get people in the car, we're confident that the technology will sell itself,” Diamond said.
Here's how it works: Once a driver rents the Leaf (at a cost of about $30 a day or less) at the Enterprise counter in the Orlando International Airport, they can stop at any of the kiosks in the area when the car has a low charge. More than 25 hotels, including The Peabody Orlando and Renaissance Orlando, have charging stations, and valets will charge the cars overnight. Other large public places, such as the Orlando Convention Center, have charging stations in the parking lot.
There are no charging stations inside the area's theme parks, but there are many nearby — and organizers say more charging stations are “in the works.” Renters are more likely to charge their vehicles at hotels overnight, they said.
If the car runs low on power while on the road, its dashboard screen displays the nearest charging stations. If the vehicle's battery dies entirely, then AAA will come to charge the car for free, said Lisa Martini, a spokeswoman for Enterprise Rent-A-Car.
The cars have a range of about 80 to 100 miles on a full charge. All of the details, including how to plug the car into a charging station, are fully explained to the renter at the Enterprise counter, Martini said.
“We want people to be comfortable with the technology,” she said.
Diamond, along with other officials, says that many people like the idea of fully electric vehicles like the Leaf or the Chevy Volt but are worried about how far the car's battery will go.
Electric car sales are a tiny fraction of overall U.S. auto sales. Automakers sold about 12,000 pure-electric vehicles in the United States through April, according to Wards-Auto InfoBank, an industry database, and Tesla Motors, which designs electric vehicles. That's less than 1 percent of the 4.97 million cars and trucks sold during the same period. Even a $7,500 tax credit from the government that effectively lowers prices couldn't persuade most car buyers.
The Nissan Leaf sells for $29,650 including shipping costs, although the company does offer $199 monthly leases with $1,999 down.
Renting a car and driving it while on vacation or on a business trip is a “try before you buy” scenario, said Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, who took reporters on a cruise in downtown Orlando on a recent day in a Leaf.
He pointed out the charging station in front of City Hall, at the Amway Center — where many concerts and sporting events are held — and at other county-owned locations, all within a 2-mile radius of downtown. At one location, he popped the car's tiny hood and clicked a charging “pump” into the socket.
Dyer said that Orlando is one of the most-visited destinations in the United States and said it is the nation's largest rental car market.
“It gives them an option to try out an electric car and see how easy it is to use and get rid of that range anxiety,” he said.
While the big money-saver from using the electric car is avoiding the cost of gas altogether, getting the charge for free saves a bit of cash. Some public meters cost a few dollars for a full charge, while others are free but require payment for parking at a meter. Under the rental program, drivers wave a key fob at the charger to proceed without paying.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Energy companies vie for experienced workers with skills in high demand
- Energy-saving tactics pay off in Green Workplace Challenge
- Energy Spotlight: Adam Pope
- Former athletes open businesses
- European Central Bank pledge electrifies stock market; Dow jumps 259 points
- North Dakota oil boom attracts crime
- Chevron laying off 162 workers from Moon-based unit
- Password change can block hackers from wireless cameras
- Energy industry says it’s on top of methane leaks, but environmentalists want oversight
- Bank of New York Mellon 4Q earnings rise to $793 million, but revenue sluggish
- Mylan loses Supreme Court fight over multiple sclerosis drug