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Guest Column
Tampa Bay, imagine I-75 with only electric cars | Column
The Sunshine State is already second in the nation in electric vehicle sales.
The author points out that driving a Chevy Bolt from Miami to Tallahassee — It’s 481 miles — costs about $10 in electricity.
The author points out that driving a Chevy Bolt from Miami to Tallahassee — It’s 481 miles — costs about $10 in electricity.
Published May 17

Have you ever driven from Miami to Tallahassee? It’s 481 miles — and costs about $120 in gas if you’re driving an old SUV. That same trip in a Chevy Bolt costs just $10.

So why aren’t we all driving electric cars on I-75? Well, obviously, big trucks and high-octane speed machines are cool — at least until it’s time to fill’er up. But some people are saying it’s because local dealerships don’t want to sell electric vehicles and are hiding them from their customers.

There’s only one problem with this narrative: It’s completely untrue.

As someone who’s spent a career selling all kinds of vehicles, I couldn’t be more pleased to help my customers purchase electric cars. I’m not alone. Many of Florida’s franchised car dealers are eager to usher in this new era of green vehicles. And not just for economic reasons. We recognize that EVs are essential to preserving our planet for future generations. Indeed, local dealerships play a central role in spurring the mass adoption of sustainable, battery-powered vehicles.

Larry Morgan
Larry Morgan [ Provided ]

It is true that, once upon a time, some dealers were reluctant to promote electric vehicles with their customers. But that’s because, in the early EV days, most battery-powered vehicles had limited driving range, were inconvenient to charge, and cost too much — sometimes twice as much or more than a gasoline vehicle.

Many of those early EVs were what people in the auto industry call “compliance cars” — vehicles designed to meet government-mandated environmental standards, not to satisfy the needs and desires of actual drivers.

So it was only reasonable that dealers were less-than-excited about first-generation EV cars. After all, nobody likes selling an inferior — and expensive — product. But that’s no longer the case. Years of sustained investment by auto manufacturers have resulted in EVs that can compete with or even outperform traditional internal-combustion-engine (ICE) cars.

And according to General Motors, advances in battery technology will make EVs as affordable as ICE vehicles within five years, while enabling drivers to get as much as 450 miles on a single charge.

In short, the latest EVs are cars and trucks that dealers love to sell. For evidence, look no further than BMW, which plans to nearly double EV production by 2023. BMW has invested an eye-popping $56 million in training dealership technicians to care for these high-tech vehicles. That money will help build two new training centers in the Southeast and expand two existing locations to accommodate the shift towards an electric future.

In other words, many dealers are staking their futures on the transition away from internal combustion engines. And why wouldn’t they? From a dealer’s point of view, the financial incentive to sell an EV is the same as for a gas-powered vehicle. And with consumers increasingly demanding EVs, we can satisfy our customers, shrink the nation’s carbon footprint, and make money at the same time. This is especially true here in Florida, where demand for EVs is stronger than almost anywhere else in the country.

The Sunshine State is second in the nation in EV sales. And according to the Florida Energy Office, the number of EVs on the state’s roads is expected to double in the next decade.

Tampa Bay dealerships will be critical to this transformation — educating drivers about the benefits and drawbacks of EVs, helping them find cars that fit their needs and price-range, arranging financing, and supporting customers over the lives of their vehicles. Pretty soon, there will be more EVs than traditional cars on I-75. And your local dealership and its employees have a big role to play in getting us to that cleaner, more sustainable future.

Larry Morgan is the chairman of Morgan Auto Group which operates 13 dealerships in the Tampa Bay area specializing in brands like Toyota, Honda, Ford, Jeep, and BMW.