UCF hosts first electric vehicle display in honor of National Drive Electric Week

It was a drizzly Tuesday morning outside of the UCF Student Union, but students were crowded outside, taking photos and talking excitedly.

Five electric cars donned the patio as part of an electric vehicle display put on by UCF Sustainability Initiatives in partnership with the Florida Solar Energy Center and Central Florida Clean Cities Coalition. The event, the first of its kind at UCF, was part of National Drive Electric Week, which is a nationwide celebration of plug-in vehicles.

Hannah Hollinger, Sustainability Initiatives’ social outreach director and the SGA health and sustainability coordinator, organized the event.

“I wanted to bring out various electric cars to educate students, faculty and staff about the different electrical vehicle options there are and to show how attractive and affordable they can be,” she said. “It’s important to know what’s going on with our environment and what options there are to make our environment better.”

Senior mechanical engineering major Jose Zarate explored the different cars, taking photos and trying out the various features.

“I’m obsessed with Tesla cars and the future of automobiles,” he said. “My next car will definitely be a Tesla because I’m a huge proponent of doing everything we can to improve the environment. I like the fact that I will never have to get gas again.”

The cars were all brought by their independent owners, including Christian Cascone, a national sustainability development director, who owns a 2014 Tesla Model S.

“It’s software based, not mechanical based, which is wonderful because you don’t have to worry about the car not being at peak performance because they’re always updating the software,” he said. “It’s just like your phone — the technology moves so fast.”

UCF currently has nine electric vehicle charging stations on campus. Six are located just off of Memory Mall, provided by GE. SemaConnect, a company that manufactures charging stations, provides the other three.

“There’s one in front of the visitors center, two in Garage A, and we just ordered four more that will go into some of the other garages in the near future,” said Randy Etman, a sales manager at SemaConnect.

Etman expects more charging stations to come to UCF as more people purchase electric vehicles. According to HybridCars.com, currently 460,000 Americans own plug-in cars, and that number is likely to grow as the vehicles become more affordable.

Shauna Basques, a UCF graduate student and program assistant at Florida Solar Energy Center, bought her 2013 Chevy Volt used for $15,000. She now brings it to different events to educate people on electric cars.

“If you can buy an electric vehicle, you should definitely do so. You’ll love the car and enjoy the savings,” Basques said. “If you can’t afford a new car, you should bike or take transit if you can. Anything you can do to reduce your carbon footprint in anyway is a fantastic idea.”