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Here’s how to test drive a Tesla next week in St. Pete

Local officials want residents to experience a cleaner drive.

Congressman Charlie Crist is taking a spin in a Tesla Monday to raise awareness for the importance of electric vehicle technology on clean transportation. 

Crist is hosting a press conference Monday with Pinellas County Commissioner Janet Long, St. Pete Mayor Rick Kriseman and Largo Mayor Woody Brown.

The group will talk about how electric vehicles help further clean energy initiatives as well as what state and local policies are doing to advance electric vehicle opportunities in Florida. 

After the press conference, officials and guests will pile into several different electric vehicles for a test drive. 

Vehicles on hand for the event include Tesla’s Model 3 sedan and a custom-wrapped Model X as well as a Nissan LEAF hatchback.

The test drive event is part of the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy’s Driving on Sunshine electric vehicle roadshow. The group is touring the state with electric vehicles to give consumers the opportunity to experience what it’s like to drive without the gas pump. The roadshow launched earlier this month with events scheduled across the state. 

Monday’s event is open to the public, but space is limited. Interested drivers can sign up on the group’s website. 

The campaign seeks “to empower individuals and communities to transition to clean, electric transportation throughout the Southeast.”

According to the campaign, electric vehicles can be a huge cost savings for drivers. They estimate it costs about the equivalent of $1 per gallon in a traditional gas-powered car.

They also don’t require motor oil, which reduces maintenance costs. Of course, that’s in addition to environmental benefits like reducing air pollution and limiting dependence on oil. 

The press conference will also feature one of the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority’s all electric buses. 

The event starts at 10 a.m. at the Palladium Theater in downtown St. Pete. Test drives are available until 11 a.m.

Janelle Irwin Taylor has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. Most recently, Janelle reported for the Tampa Bay Business Journal. She formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a die-hard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics, including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and contentious issues surrounding transit. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also a devoted wife and mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder.

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