Orlando tourism industry plugs into electric car experience
Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer and Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs are silhouetted during the announcement of the Drive Electric Orlando program
By Barbara Liston
ORLANDO, Florida (Reuters) - Promoters of electric cars are hoping to entice a few of Orlando's 56 million annual visitors to rent one at the airport and plug in at strategically placed charging stations at tourist hotels, theme parks and the convention center.
The goal of Drive Electric Orlando, which officially kicked off on Thursday with 15 Nissan Leaf cars, is to encourage broader adoption of electric vehicles by providing visitors with what amounts to an extended test drive during their stay.
"The best way is to get someone behind the wheel to drive it," said Sam Ori, vice president of the Electrification Coalition, a not-for-profit group of business leaders interested in developing an electric transportation system.
Nathan Prior, director of business rental sales for Enterprise Holdings, parent company of Enterprise Rent-a-Car, reaches into an electric car before the announcement of the Drive Electric Orlando program
Electric cars have been slow to catch on around the nation in part because of sparce supportive infrastructure such as charging stations in some areas as well as consumer concerns about cars' limited distances on a single charge and the wait times for recharging.
The Orlando initiative is the first in the nation to exclusively target tourists, according to Ashley White, spokeswoman for the Coalition, which sponsored the plan.
Orlando is one of the world's largest rental car markets, thanks to Walt Disney World, other major tourist attractions, and the Orange County Convention Center, which is United States' second-largest convention center and helps draw 10 million business travelers a year.