Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Electric Avenue: A showcase of electric vehicles in Jacksonville

Electric vehicles from all over Jacksonville will join the usual gasoline gearheads Saturday at the monthly Caffeine & Octane Jacksonville cruise-in at The Avenues mall.

That’s where EV owners will find the rollout of the Drive Electric North Florida chapter and its Electric Avenue, to showcase vehicles powered by volts.

Set from 8 to 11 a.m. at The Avenues mall at 10300 Southside Blvd., Caffeine & Octane often sees hundreds of classics, hot rods and speciality interest cars showing and shining at the mall’s southern parking lots, with hundreds more fans mingling with the metal. Fords, Ferraris and Fiats are the featured makes on display in the center lot.

This Saturday, they will be joined by Teslas, Rivians, Lucid Airs and other electric cars, trucks and sport utility vehicles. The Electric Avenue is presented by North Florida Clean Fuels Coalition, JEA Drive Electric and the locally produced EV Rider video blog.

The display of locally owned EVs, as well as some new ones from manufacturers, shows Jacksonville is taking another step toward a zero-emission future, as does the launch of the new Drive Electric North Florida chapter, said Bill Bortzfield, co-founder of Drive Electric North Florida and EV Rider blogger. He will be there with his family’s Mini Cooper EV and the Ford Mustang Mach-E electric.

“They’re going to be directing all the EVs to a very specific area in the central lot,” Bortzfield said Wednesday on First Coast Connect with Melissa Ross. “It’s going to be a great opportunity for education for people who have always been a little bit curious about an EV, but maybe they’re unsure. Basically, this is a new initiative that’s been put together by the North Florida TPO. … Are EVs perfect? No. But when you compare them to gasoline cars, they really are an advancement.”

EVs are divided into three varieties.

Pure EVs have batteries that power electric motors, with no gas engine in the drivetrain. Plug-in hybrids — or PHEVs — have a gas engine in line with batteries and electric motors to combine power and improve gas mileage, but they can run on batteries only and need to be plugged in to recharge those. Then there are hybrids, which mix gas and electric as needed, and have no need to be plugged in.


Two BMW i8 hybrid electric sports coupes show off at a recent Caffeine & Octane.

More than 6.6 million electric cars were sold around the world in 2021, according to a new report from the International Energy Agency. There are almost 12,500 electric vehicles registered in Florida right now, according to Drive Electric Florida. North Florida Clean Fuels estimates almost 2,400 EVs are registered in Jacksonville, with close to 1,600 in St. Johns, 407 in Clay and 226 in Nassau County.

North Florida Clean Fuels Coalition is a nonprofit organization that promotes clean and sustainable fuels, vehicles and infrastructure, supported by the North Florida Transportation and Planning Organization. That is the independent regional transportation planning agency for Baker, Clay, Duval, Nassau, Putnam and St. Johns counties. JEA ​Drive Electric helps potential EV owners learn about, buy and drive them in Northeast Florida. That includes free consultations with an EV expert, help in finding electricians to assist with EV charger installation and information about its EV Charging Rebate program.

There are also rebates and incentives available to help buy an EV, Bortzfield said.

“There are many EVs that do qualify for a $7,500 tax credit,” he said. “With that said, you want to be very sure that what you’re looking at qualifies for that. EVRide.tv includes a link to the IRS federal government page. And there you can be sure what you’re considering is on the list. You can even punch in the VIN number.”

Bortzfield said there are new requirements for North American assembly and content. Some of the cars that used to be excluded, such as Teslas, are now included. Those local incentives see JEA offering an off-peak charging incentive, he said.

Caffeine and Octane is held at the same time every second Saturday of the month at The Avenues, rain or shine, with more than a thousand classics, exotics and EVs in attendance many times. The event is free, and plug-in hybrids are also welcome on Electric Avenue.


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