Environment Florida: 60 mpg standard would save Floridians millions over holiday weekend

11/23/10 Kate Bradshaw
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An estimated one million cars will be taking to Florida’s highways for the upcoming holiday weekend. That adds up to tens of millions of dollars in fuels costs. A new Environment Florida study out this week suggests that the average family would save more than twelve dollars per 50-mile round trip if their cars were more fuel efficient.

"With roughly one million cars taking the roads to visit family and friends this Thanksgiving, Floridians are expected to spend about $25 million at the gas pump for their holiday travel."

That’s Environment Florida spokesperson Sarah Bucci. Speaking in Downtown Tampa today, she says if cars had fuel efficiency of 60 miles per gallon instead of the current average of 26.4 miles per gallon, Floridians would save millions of dollars over Thanksgiving weekend.

"Our analysis found that Floridians would save roughly $13.9 million just this Thanksgiving weekend alone."

The Obama Administration has already set fuel economy standards to 35 miles per gallon by model year 2016. But Environment Florida says that’s not enough. They hope the administration will boost fuel efficiency standards to 60 miles per gallon by 2025. Bucci says that now’s the perfect time to do this, given that everyone is looking for ways to save money.

"Now we need the Obama administration to push ahead with clean car standards that will make these benefits a reality."

While some might be skeptical of the higher price tag many of the more fuel efficient models carry, Bucci says that cars that get 60 miles per gallon standard would quickly recover any added up-front costs.

"The EPA did an estimate on how fast consumers could recoup the increase in upfront costs and they found that with these cars that get at least 60 mpg they would recoup that cost within 3 to 4 years."

Major auto manufacturers are now starting to roll out hybrid and electric cars, like the Nissan Leaf and the Chevy Volt. Richard Nimphie is about to launch the Tampa Bay area’s first all-electric car dealership in St. Petersburg. He says he began his career at the height of the fuel crisis.

"During the oil crisis of 1979 Americans wasted an average of 150,000 barrels of oil per day just waiting in line to get gas at a gas station. And we in the Buick business at that time made substantial progress because our cars then got 14 mpg."

He says he’s getting into the electric car business because he doesn’t think enough has been done to boost fuel efficiency on a large scale.

"Thirty-seven years of selling vehicles ranging from 8.7 mpg in 1973 to 19-25 mpg in current day. I felt there had to be another answer."

Nimphie says he expects to open shop in a few weeks, and that a compact model will run somewhere around 22,000 dollars. He says there are many incentives to going electric.

"The vehicles have 73 percent US content, we will have vehicles that will go up to 100 miles in range, 65 mph, and one of the most important things, the federal government offers a $7,500 tax credit."

He says most electric models can travel comparable speeds to vehicles with combustion engines. The Environmental Protection Agency says the Nissan Leaf, which is expected to hit dealerships next month, has a fuel efficiency equivalent of 99 miles per gallon. This means it can travel 99 miles on the amount of energy contained in one gallon of gas. EPA spokesperson Cathy Milbourn says the amount of energy in one gallon of gas is 33.7 kilowatt hours. With that much electrical energy, the Leaf can go 99 miles. The cars can charge overnight using a wall outlet. But Helda Rodriguez of Novacharge says the company has been setting up electric vehicle charging stations across the state, including one in Largo.

"We have about 2 dozen charging stations currently in place. Within the next 6 months we'll have over 300 charging stations throughout the entire Florida region to be able to start servicing consumers. That number will probably triple by the middle of next year and we'll be somewhere around 2000 by the end of next year."

The Environment Florida study says Americans would burn 80 million less gallons of gasoline over Thanksgiving weekend if fuel efficiency standards were at 60 miles per gallon.

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Just looking... thank you.

Sis… I don’t think Nimphie’s right. I may be mistaken (God knows it wouldn’t be the 1st time)… but according to the GM website… http://gm-volt.com/2009/08/04/why-the-volt-will-cost-40000/ …the Volt’s battery pack will be $8000, and the car will retail for $40,000, with GM selling them to dealers at a loss, in the mid to upper 30s. The average transaction price including tax and destination charges would be about $43,000. Even the Nissan Leaf is going for about $33,000… and they’re all betting on a $7,500 tax credit for the buyer… to make the costs appear low. Yeah… Mitsubishi makes the I-MiEV for the equivalent of $22,000… in China… but I’m not sure it’s street legal in the USA. And… oh yeah… there’s a beer can on wheels in India (made by Flybo???)… for less than 3 grand. None the less… when Nimphie opens his doors… I’ll be there.