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Heidi Rambo Centrella
Heidi Rambo Centrella

There are some standard topics of idle conversation, in waiting areas or elevators or around water coolers, that just do nothing for me. Anything to do with March Madness is practically a foreign language, for example. But lately I’ve been pricking up my ears when I hear someone mention mileage or lease deals, because I’m going to be in the market for new wheels soon. And I’m thinking pretty seriously about a hybrid.

I’m not sure I’m ready to take the plunge into getting an all-electric vehicle yet, but many of our neighbors clearly are: Data shows that last year, 3,649 EVs were sold in Southwest Florida. That might not sound like a huge number—it’s only 5% of all vehicles sold in the area, after all, plus 3,500 cars probably feels like a light Tuesday for anyone used to driving down U.S. 41 during Season—but consider that just five years ago, the number of electric vehicles sold across the region was 74. That’s a growth rate of more than 4,000% since 2018.

EVs aren’t for everyone, of course. Some drivers want more range or require more flexibility, and some simply relish the sound and feel of a gas engine. For shipping companies and corporate fleets, the numbers may not add up. Yet. But as battery technology continues to improve and more infrastructure is added to SWFL, the option is becoming more tempting for many. I’ll be curious to see how the industry develops and grows in the coming years. I haven’t yet driven an EV, but David Dorsey did for this month’s issue—read his report, and a range of local perspectives, in “Power Surge” on p. 32.

Of course, development and growth are always on the minds of Southwest Floridians. Every year brings more residents, so the area needs more housing, more retail, more dining, more health care … and that means more infrastructure such as roads, electricity and water. But our resources are finite, and community growth means having to maintain—or attempt to maintain—a tricky set of tradeoffs between the demands of development and the continued survival of Florida’s natural splendor. John Guerra delves into the political realities of water infrastructure for his feature “In the Balance” on p. 42. It’s a complex issue, and a critically important one.

As the year progresses, it continually offers fresh reminders of why we love living here so much in the first place. I hope we all find plenty of examples this month.

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