Living

Not your Dad’s electric car

Electric-powered and high-mileage, gas-powered vehicles are beginning to catch on. So much so that Florida House Majority Leader Adam Hasner, R-Delray Beach, has filed a bill that provides incentives and tax relief for owners of electric vehicles and charging stations in order to reduce our dependence on foreign oil, strengthen Florida’s energy security, help stimulate the state’s economy and bring us closer to energy independence.

The bill is a timely one because more people are thinking about alternative ways to power their transportation, particularly in the Keys. To help people find out more about their options, the fourth annual GLEE Expo on Saturday, March 28, in Marathon will bring together owners and inventers of more than 30 vehicles powered by different types of energy.

Visitors will be able to see the cars, talk to the owners and even test drive some of the vehicles. Owners and inventors will explain their vehicles’ technologies and answer questions. In addition, the expo will feature two panel discussions comparing hybrid, electric, solar, compressed air and biofuel technologies. Experts will explain how their technologies work and how they meet the changing transportation industry’s needs.

If passed as-is in the session now under way, Hasner’s legislation provides for sales tax exemptions for highway-capable plug-in electric vehicles and electric vehicle components, an annual $1,000 tax credit per vehicle each year for corporate fleets of 10 or more highway-capable plug-in electric vehicles, toll exemptions on Florida toll roads for highway-capable plug-in electric vehicles, a $2,000 rebate for installing a public charging station and a $2,000 rebate for converting a hybrid to a plug-in hybrid with a federally certified conversion kit.

On the federal level, the stimulus signed into law by President Barack Obama included a provision in which buyers of electric cars and trucks can receive a 10 percent tax credit up to $2,500. It’s a measure being heralded by the makers of the ZAP vehicles sold by S.A.L.T. in Marathon. S.A.L.T., more formally known as Sea Air Land Technologies, will have one of ZAP’s battery-powered three-wheeled trucks on display at the expo.

One of the most doable vehicles to be on display is the plug-in Prius. While manufacturers haven’t announced a production plug-in, they exist, right now, in the form of a conversion kit. Ron and Fran Fah are bringing their plug-in Prius to the Expo as a part of their statewide tour to show people how easy it is to step up to electric vehicles that give up nothing in use and style.

For the fourth Expo in a row, the Florida Electric Auto Association will bring an assortment of electric vehicles, including an electric Porsche, several Toyota RAV4s and the Vectrix motorcycle. The owners will discuss the future of EV technology and the new supportive state initiatives being discussed in Tallahassee.

Solar energy powers a limo and golf cart unit being brought by E3 (www.e3fla.com ). Neither has been plugged in since the day they were created. Instead, they draw their power from the sun.

Leading the “innovation” category is a vehicle from Solution Hybrid LLC ( www.solutionhybrid.com ) with its new 2.0 Chamber Management Motor that uses compressed air to drive each wheel of a vehicle with a small motor. Components are made of state-of-the-art materials. When running components are suspended on a cushion of air within the motor to reduce friction.

Options that expo visitors can buy at the dealer and drive home now include the Civic Hybrid from Honda, which will release its new four-door Honda Insight later this year.

Businesses that use alternative transportation every day will also be represented at GLEE’s expo. Five Sixes Taxi of Key West has won acclaim for replacing its fleet with hybrid Ford Escapes. They will display one of their pink vehicles and talk about the bottom line of going green.

S.A.L.T. (Sea Air Land Technologies) in Marathon will be showing off two hard-working and energy-efficient electric vehicles they use every day.

Also on display will be the hybrid vehicle used by Waste Management. And there will even be an all-electric Hummer, a rental from Key West’s Joey’s Classic Electric Rentals. First State Bank will bring a SmartCar to the show.

EV, compressed air and hybrids are not the only alternatives. Biofuels power cars and boats, and examples of both will be at the Expo. Their owners will explain what biofuel is, how it works, how it affects the environment and where to fuel up.

Topping off the list of green vehicles is one of the original alternative modes of transportation, the bicycle, ideally suited for the Keys warm climate. Tavernier Bike Shop ( www.tavernierbikes.com ) will display an assortment of new bicycles with comfy seats, fat and skinny tires and options on gears, grips, size, color, and more. It’s an opportunity to slow down and enjoy the views in the beautiful Florida Keys.

The Green Living Expo will even provide a free bike valet service. Anyone who rides their bike to the event can have it parked by one of GLEE’s volunteer valets. Anyone arriving by bicycle or public transportation will receive a token of GLEE’s appreciation for considering the environment.

To find out more about GLEE’s Expo, go to www.keysglee.com .

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