ORLANDO, Fla. (FOX 35 ORLANDO) - The state is adding electric car charging stations to every service plaza along the Florida Turnpike, but is it worth it?
Improving air quality is the goal of the project, and $25 million from the Volkswagen diesel-emissions scandal settlement will pay for the expansion.
"I think it's a great idea, I mean, it's nice to see that we're supporting a more green, eco-friendly initiatives," said Alicia Farrington, driver.
"Right now, we have Tesla chargers at two service plazas and then with this program, we're gonna have an additional 26 chargers at every one of our service plazas," said Paul Satchfield, Suntrax Program Manager, "so that the citizens of Florida and the tourists, we get a lot of those, can use their electric vehicles comfortably around the state."
Satchfield says electric cars are becoming more popular.
"Florida has about 28,000 electric vehicles right now, they sold 13,700 or so last year, the year before that, they sold about 6,300, so you saw a 98 percent increase year over year from 2017 to 2018, so the demand is going to be there for these facilities," said Satchfield.
Tesla driver Jason Compton tells me charging stations are hard to come by.
"We've had some tight times, if you will, where we missed a turn, and we had to do a U-turn, come back and it was close as far as running out of juice," said Jason Compton, driver.
But the state could have chosen to give more money to cities to help replace aging diesel equipment. Satchfield says, this project is about paving the way for the future.
"You can see with the increase in vehicles being purchased every year -- and that's not just in Florida, that's nationwide --, that it's coming," said Satchfield. "And again, with autonomous vehicles, they will be electric, and at some point down the future -- and it's probably going to be decades -- you'll see those fossil fuel cars be the minority and the EV's will be the majority,"
A big investment for the future, Compton says electric cars have a long way to go before becoming mainstream.
"I don't see that happening anytime soon," said Compton. The long-term goal is to add charging stations