Palm Coast, FL (December 15, 2021) After attending the National Drive Electric Week Orlando in late September 2021, Flagler Palm Coast High School math and computer science teacher Kevin Saint, and FPC senior and IB computer science student Dylan Long were so impressed with the city’s foresight and commitment to the electric and autonomous vehicle industry, the pair returned to Flagler to create the Sustainable Flagler club.

The co-founders hosted their first electric vehicle car show on Saturday, December 11th, and club members were on hand to talk tech with those interested in learning more about the evolution of electric vehicles.

Long gone are the early days of hybrids with a reputation for slow charging and short trips. Today’s electric vehicles are akin to hopping behind the wheel of a race car, ready to take a lap at the Daytona International Speedway.


Owners offered a look at several Tesla models including the Model 3, Model X, and Model Y during the showcase. Nick Klufas, a Palm Coast City Councilman and owner of a Tesla S Plaid – known as the fastest electric vehicle in the Tesla production fleet with 1020 horsepower, generously took attendees for a ride.

While no speed limits were broken, the sheer speed at which the vehicle accelerates is mind boggling, and that’s the point of the test ride. To shatter preconceived notions that electric vehicles are frumpy and slow.

“It’s the fastest production car ever made,” said Klufas.

Palm Coast City Councilman Nick Klufas takes attendees on a ride in his Tesla Plaid test ride during the electric vehicle car show, hosted by Sustainable Flagler at Palm Coast City Hall on December 11, 2021.

“The full self-driving beta is not in production yet. It’s for select users, but basically it’s a preview version of the software that will be able to run in a robo taxi, where you can just send your car out and have it be a robo taxi.”

“It will do the quarter mile in 9.2 seconds, acceleration from 0 to 60 in 1.9 (seconds) and 60 to 130 in four seconds. It will do the full self-driving, it will play video games, we have a full suite of video games on here that you can play, it’s got YouTube, Hulu, Disney. It’s got ‘fart mode’.”

It’s pretty sweet.

Transportation officials and the transportation industry have been testing driverless semi-truck since 2019 on Florida’s Turnpike, with the way paved by the Florida Legislature and Governor Ron DeSantis with HB 311, and researchers are following additional guidelines provided for autonomous vehicles with HB 1289 which was signed into law in summer 2021.

Klufas thinks it’s only a matter of time before autonomous or self-driving vehicles are shuttling people across town to their destinations.

Back to the Future

The excitement of Dylan Long and Kevin Saint have led them to propose projects ahead of their time in a community like Flagler County such as the addition of electric school buses, and the pair are hopeful that their club is the beginning of a broader conversation about sustainability.

“Tesla sold 2/3rds of all electric vehicles last year,” said Long, who drives a 2013 Nissan Leaf, during the showcase. “That was the world’s first mass market electric vehicle, it came out in 2010. That one only gets 65 miles of range so that is why it was not mass adopted. However I got it for pretty cheap and I’ve saved a lot of money, so I love it, but doesn’t work for road trips,” he said candidly.

Dylan’s effectiveness as a spokesman convinced Saint to sell his newer Nissan Altima and purchase a Nissan Leaf as well.  He’s now putting residential solar panels on his home with the proceeds to offset his electric bill by 128% he said.

As with any developing technology, there are skeptics. One question before the car show on Saturday revolved around hurricanes and the need to recharge the vehicles.

Long says the charge hold time is about 55 kilowatt hours and according to Saint, the vehicles charged up can even help power a home for a short amount of time.

“A typical house consumes about 30 kilowatts per day, that is the smallest range Tesla right now, and it holds 55 kilowatt hours (kWh), so a lot of energy,” said Long, referencing one of the vehicles on display.

“So you’re not going to see pretty much any range loss for the car just sitting there. You just have it charged beforehand and you don’t have to worry about it. There is some concern with congestion at the chargers when people are trying to evacuate. Luckily there (are) a lot of government programs going on to alleviate that but generally you don’t have to worry about your range being depleted during a hurricane,” he said.

“There are some vehicles coming along like the Ford F150 Lightening that has bidirectional electricity so of course if it’s charged up you can actually plug it into your house, and power your house for a few days during a hurricane,” added Saint, who’d seen a Ford Mustang Mach-E during the showcase.

“It’s all about education and I’m so thankful for our city councilman Nick Klufas coming out to demonstrate his car because people still have a misconception about electric vehicles – they’re slow, they cost too much, there’s not enough charging infrastructure, all these different things. So when you’ve got the fastest car in the world here. This younger generation here they’re interested in tech. They know tech,” said Saint.

Students in the Sustainable Flagler Club hosted their first electric vehicle car show on Saturday allowing the public a chance to learn more about electric vehicles, at Palm Coast City Hall on December 11, 2021.

 Fill’er Up

Just like plugging in your cell phone before bed, Saint says users will get in the habit of filling up their electric car buy plugging it in each night.

To help meet the needs of travelers, long-range transportation plans are incorporating transformational technologies into their planning to help prepare communities for the future.

In 2019 the State of Florida began working on an EV Road Map to identify challenges and barriers not only for the future of electric vehicles and the necessary charging stations but the impact on the power grid, with the report slated to be updated every few years.

Tesla’s charging network currently supplies half of the electric vehicles Florida as of June 2020.

In addition to the charging stations at Palm Coast City Hall, two fast charge stations are slated for installation in 2022 at 55 Town Center Blvd, at the Hilton Garden Inn.

As part of a Volkswagen Phase I FDEP Grant Award in April 2021 through the Diesel Emissions Mitigation Program (DEMP) initiative, the two fast charge stations are part of a connecting alternative fuel corridor in northeast Florida. The company selected to install Palm Coast’s two charging stations, eCAMION, says their high-speed charge stations are so fast, users can fully charge their vehicles in under 10 minutes.

Just days after the EV car showcase, the U.S. Department of Transportation and U.S. Department of Energy signed a Memorandum of Understanding to create a “Joint Office of Energy and Transportation to support the deployment of $7.5 billion from the President’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to build out a national electric vehicle charging network that can build public confidence, with a focus on filling gaps in rural, disadvantaged, and hard-to-reach locations,” according to a release from the U.S. Department of Energy on December 14, 2021.

The collaborative progress is something Saint and Long are looking forward to as enthusiasm for future advances fuel growth among students in the Sustainable Flagler group.

“Our mission is the same as Tesla’s. Our purpose is to accelerate the advent of sustainability in our county,” said Saint.

“We were talking and thought wow, this needs to be something we should push in our county because they’re doing so much,” said the pair after the National Drive Electric Week in Orlando.

“There’s really to our knowledge, not a whole lot going on in Flagler County with this. It just made sense so we thought we need to be doing more of our part for the county and so we thought, what’s the best way to do that,”

With 10 regularly active members and 20 or so that come when they can, the group is getting their feet wet and dreaming big, aiming to host a larger electric vehicle showcase with vendors and educational experiences including drag runs at the airport.

As for now it’s about making an impact where they can, and students are putting a buzz in the ear of officials to consider including electric vehicle charging stations when the Flagler Palm Coast High School repaving project, slated for 2023, gets underway.

“I’m a little bit ambitious,” admits Saint, not just for the EV charging stations, solar panels and electric buses, but that students in the club are also problem solving future issues for their local community.

“We’re also going to try to have conversations with the local fire department about this influx of electric vehicles. The way you put out fires with those is a lot different than internal combustion vehicles,” said Saint. “So they need to be properly educated on that.”

As for Dylan, it’s obvious he’s just getting started. The Flagler Palm Coast High School student just received the Take Stock In Children Leaders 4 Life Fellowship, the first one ever awarded in Flagler County, and he has his sights set on the future.

“If you just look objectively at all the information about electric cars it is inevitable that they will take over gas cars. They’re more convenient, they’re cheaper and they’re more fun to own just in every regard,” said Long.

“This was just our first small scale electric car showcase. We wanted to get experience holding an event very quickly so that we can hold better events in the future as well as showing people some of the cars. I think it went very well,” he said.

Sustainable Flagler has created a survey and the public is invited to share their responses here