Make us your home page

Tampa firm brings first charging station for electric cars to the area

The stations that NovaCharge expects to start planting around the Tampa Bay region are manufactured in California by Coulomb Technologies.

Coulcomb Technologies

The stations that NovaCharge expects to start planting around the Tampa Bay region are manufactured in California by Coulomb Technologies.

TAMPA — Charging stations for electric cars near apartment complexes. A charge that takes 10 minutes in a mall parking space. Affordable electric vehicles.

That's the dream — making electric vehicles an alternative to gas-powered vehicles. There's a long way to go, but the Tampa Bay region is getting a start.

NovaCharge, a Tampa-based distributor, gives the area its first charging unit for electric cars this week. To be installed outside Solar Source, 10840 Endeavour Way in Largo, the stand-alone unit provides a full charge in about four hours.

As manufacturers prepare to introduce new electric cars, more charging stations are starting to appear. The U.S. Energy Department recognizes two stations in the state, but a nonprofit organization has put in 25 more.

In Cocoa, for instance, three units each with three plug-in options wait for motorists at the Florida Solar Energy Center. Someone drives in for a charge about every two months.

It's slow, yes.

But the installation of charging stations needs to grow before car manufacturers release electric models in the next couple of years, said Ron Phillips, Solar Source's director of training and sales.

The Chevrolet Volt and the Nissan Leaf, both extended-range electric cars, are scheduled be released in more than a year.

"It's an egg thing," said Bill Young, a board member of the Energy Department's Florida Space Coast Clean Cities Coalition. "Which comes first, the chicken or the egg?"

That's the problem. And the Florida Electric Auto Association won't wait. The organization paid for 25 units and installations between the Florida Keys and New Smyrna Beach.

Charles Whalen, the group's charging director, said local politicians can't justify using tax money to put in the stations during a recession — especially when there are only 200 electric vehicles capable of driving on Florida's highways.

As more charging units appear, Whalen predicts affordable electric vehicles for a broader audience will develop in five years. He thinks it will take 30 years for electric vehicles to account for more than half of new car sales.

Offers for the free units and their installation at about $7,000 each have been welcomed except in Delray Beach.

The stations NovaCharge expects to start planting around the Tampa Bay area are manufactured in California by Coulomb Technologies and part of a global network tracked online. A map on the company's Web site shows real-time availability.

A consumer uses a subscription-based card or credit card for each plug-in session. An e-mail or text message announces the end of a charge hours later to a subscribing customer.

Unit owners can make money by collecting 80 percent of revenue on a unit. The rest goes for maintenance, said Helda Rodriguez, NovaCharge president.

"The first person who took a chance and put an ATM in Busch Gardens today is probably making a lot of money," Rodriguez said.

Unlimited monthly charges go for $50.

By the end of 2010, at least 600 charging units are expected to dot the Southeast from Washington to the Florida Keys.

Rodriguez wants to see 200 to 400 of those units in Florida.

There's big support.

President Barack Obama recently granted $2.4 billion in stimulus money for the development of electric vehicles, including $95.5 million for a cell and battery manufacturing company in Jacksonville, according to the Energy Department.

In time, technology developments will lead to cheaper cars and better batteries.

"It's just that this is going to take longer than flat-screen TVs and cell phones did," Whalen said.

Ileana Morales can be reached at or (813) 226-3403.

Tampa firm brings first charging station for electric cars to the area 08/11/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, August 12, 2009 11:12am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. 'Toxic' times: How repeal of Florida's tax on services reverberates, 30 years later

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — Long before Hurricane Irma attacked Florida, the state faced a troubled fiscal future that the storm will only make worse.

    Robertson says the tax debate is now “toxic.”
  2. Fewer Tampa Bay homeowners are underwater on their mortgages

    Real Estate

    The percentage of Tampa Bay homeowners underwater on their mortgages continues to drop. In the second quarter of this year, 10.2 percent of borrowers had negative equity compared to nearly 15 percent in the same period a year ago, CoreLogic reported Thursday. Nationally, 5.4 percent of all mortgaged homes were …

    The percentage of Tampa Bay homeowners underwater on their mortgages  continues to drop. [Times file photo]
  3. 'What Happened'? Clinton memoir sold 300,000 copies in first week


    Despite being met with decidedly mixed reviews, What Happened, Hillary Clinton's new memoir about the 2016 presidential campaign, sold a whopping 300,000 copies in its first week.

    The new memoir by former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton sold 300,000 copies in its first week.
  4. After Irma topples tree, home sale may be gone with the wind

    Real Estate

    ST. PETERSBURG — To house hunters searching online, the home for sale in St. Petersburg's Shore Acres neighborhood couldn't have looked more appealing — fully renovated and shaded by the leafy canopy of a magnificent ficus benjamini tree.

    Hurricane Irma's winds recently blew over a large ficus tree, left, in the yard of a home at 3601Alabama Ave NE, right, in Shore Acres which is owned by Brett Schroder who is trying to sell the house.
[SCOTT KEELER   |   Times]

  5. Unemployment claims double in Florida after Hurricane Irma


    The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits dropped by 23,000 last week to 259,000 as the economic impact of Hurricane Harvey began to fade.

    Homes destroyed by Hurricane Irma on Big Pine Key last week. Hurricane Irma continued to have an impact on the job market in Florida, where unemployment claims more than doubled from the previous week.
[The New York Times file photo]