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MIAMI – Mayor Francis Suarez says Miami’s doors are open to bitcoin miners in China who are currently scrambling to find a new home after Beijing made it clear that their days are numbered. 

Mining is the energy-intensive process which both creates new coins and updates the digital ledger of all transactions of existing tokens. More than half of all miners are currently based in China, but a mass exodus is already underway. Where they’re going, however, isn’t yet clear.

While Suarez told CNBC he hasn’t personally received any calls from Chinese miners, the mayor is looking to patriate this mining diaspora by promoting the city’s essentially unlimited supply of cheap nuclear energy.

“We want to make sure that our city has an opportunity to compete,” he said. “We’re talking to a lot of companies and just telling them, ‘Hey, we want you to be here,’” he said.

Rolling out the red carpet

Bitcoin miners are location agnostic; all they need is a rig and a good internet connection. What varies place to place, however, is the cost of energy. And ultimately, what miners care about most is finding the cheapest source of power out there to drive up their profit margins.

That’s why Mayor Suarez, one of the most crypto-friendly politicians in the United States, is making big promises on the cost of doing business in Miami. Suarez has been a crypto believer for years, but he took the plunge into investing in bitcoin and ethereum once he saw the federal government pass a $1.9 trillion American rescue plan, because he “realized that what was inevitable – and already happening – is inflation.”

He emphasized the city’s reliance on nuclear power as a source of clean, inexpensive energy.

“The fact that we have nuclear power means that it’s very inexpensive power,” Suarez told CNBC in an interview from a second-floor conference room in the Miami City Hall building.

Less than an hour from City Hall is the Turkey Point Nuclear Plant, which helps to power Miami, according to data from the Energy Information Administration. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported an average electricity per kilowatt hour cost of 10.7 cents in Miami, versus the national average of 13.3 cents.

Florida Power and Light workers Juan Madruga (R) and Pehter Rodriguez (L) confer at the Turkey Point Nuclear Reactor Building in Homestead, Florida May 18, 2017.
Rhona Wise | AFP | Getty Images

Across the state of Florida, nuclear energy is the second-biggest power generator, after natural gas. Suarez is already in talks with Florida Power & Light Company to figure out how to further drive down the price of energy.

“We understand how important this is…miners want to get to a certain kilowatt price per hour. And so we’re working with them on that,” Suarez told CNBC. 

The mayor is also considering a mix of other incentives, like enterprise zones specifically for crypto mining. Enterprise zones are areas in which tax concessions, infrastructure incentives, and scaled-back regulations are offered to companies, with the hope that these breaks will encourage investment and create jobs. 

Miami is not alone in its ambitions to capture the attention of bitcoin miners. 

“There is demand in North America…so the question will be one of capacity,” said Alyse Killeen, founder and managing partner of bitcoin-focused venture firm Stillmark. 

Where physical infrastructure and capacity is concerned, the mayor is optimistic the city can meet the needs of miners. 

“We were one of the first cities in the world to have a data center, and a mining hub is very similar to a data center,” he said.

But even Suarez admits that a lot needs to happen first. 

“Building a mining facility is similar to building a data center. It’s not something that happens overnight,” Suarez told CNBC. 

Miami is also not competing in a vacuum here in the U.S. States like Texas and Wyoming are also fast becoming hot mining destinations, thanks to their cheap energy mix and crypto-friendly policies.

The pollution debate

Mayor Suarez isn’t alone in championing the benefits of using nuclear power.

The federal government calls nuclear energy “a zero-emission clean energy source,” and tech billionaire and climate change evangelist Bill Gates previously told CNBC that nuclear power will “absolutely” become politically acceptable again. Gates said that new innovations are making it safer and more affordable.

“Nuclear has actually been safer than any other source of [power] generation,” Bill Gates told Andrew Ross Sorkin on CNBC’s “Squawk Box.” “You know, coal plants, coal particulate, natural gas pipelines blowing up. The deaths per unit of power on these other approaches are far higher,” Gates said.

But there are a few drawbacks to harnessing nuclear energy. While nuclear power reactors do not produce air pollution or carbon dioxide while operating, emissions are generated when constructing nuclear power plants and in the decommissioning of reactors.

And more often than not, the world’s cheapest energy sources are renewable. All factors considered, solar and wind energy sources are the lowest cost and most scalable, making them a natural fit for mining, according to Killeen.

“Miners’ capitalist motivations push them toward green energy,” she said. 

Whether Chinese miners actually make the move to Florida remains to be seen, but there are signs of progress in Miami’s aspirations to become a mining hotspot. Mayor Suarez says he is currently fielding calls from different mining companies outside China that are considering a move to the sunshine state.

The establishment vs. bitcoin

Miami isn’t just after bitcoin miners. The city wants to become a crypto destination for all sorts of professionals interested in the space.

To draw them, the mayor has been trying to make bitcoin mainstream by advocating for policies that would enable city employees to be paid and residents to pay their taxes in the cryptocurrency. The city itself is considering holding it as an asset on their balance sheet. Suarez says they now have legal clearance to proceed, and his office is currently going through the ‘Request for Proposal’ stage, which is the next leg of the approval process.

Though the crypto world is often seen as anti-establishment and opposed to government, Suarez doesn’t think the movement is at cross purposes with his administration.

“That’s why I jumped in on crypto, and that’s why there was such a crazy response, because [people] saw that government was not antithetical; government was not trying to kill it,” he said. “On the contrary…the city of Miami understands how fundamentally important it is to our future and how it could change the paradigm in the way people live their lives.”

He also talked a little bit about climate change and the prospect of rising sea levels challenging the city’s existence in coming years. Miami is a low-elevation city, and “dry day flooding” has become common in recent years.

“100% Miami still exists in 20 years,” he said, emphasizing the money and effort Miami is putting into resilience.

“I do recognize it as a threat. You know, you can’t just put your head in the sand and pretend like it’s not happening, it doesn’t exist. We’re one of the few cities in the world that is actually putting up significant amount of resources, $200 million from our Miami Forever Fund.” He added, “And now our challenge is to be the most water resistant city on the planet.”

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See & test drive your favorite EVs at Drive Electric Earth Month, all April

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See & test drive your favorite EVs at Drive Electric Earth Month, all April

It’s that time of year again, time for events across the country to show off electric vehicles at Drive Electric Earth Month.

Drive Electric Earth Month is an offshoot of Drive Electric Week, a long-running annual tradition hosting meetups mostly in the US, but also occasionally in other countries. It started as Drive Electric Earth Day, but since not every event can happen on the same day, they went ahead and extended it to encompass “Earth Month” events that happen across the month of April. It’s all organized by Plug In America, the Sierra Club, the Electric Vehicle Association, EV Hybrid Noire, and Drive Electric USA.

Events consist of general Earth Day-style community celebrations, EV Ride & Drives where you can test drive several EVs in one place, and opportunities to talk to EV owners and ask them questions about what it’s like to live with an EV, away from the pressure of a dealership.

This month, there are 180 events registered across the US and 2 in Canada (including one online webinar about things to consider when purchasing an EV). Events have already started, with a smattering happening over the last few weekends, and the bulk of them this weekend, April 20-21.

Here’s a sample of some of the still-upcoming events this month:

  • Phoenix Ride and Drive in Phoenix, AZ – Wells Fargo will be giving away an EV, along with ride & drives. April 20, 8am-12pm.
  • SpaceCoast EV Earth Day in Melbourne, FL, at the American Muscle Car Museum, the largest solar-powered auto museum in the world. Displays include a custom electric camera car for cinematography, the Bricklin 3EV prototype, and NASA’s Apollo Moon Buggy. April 20, 10am-2pm.
  • Electrify Regina in Regina, Saskatchewan, with EV and e-bike test rides and presentations on green tech like heat pumps. April 20, 10am-4:30pm.
  • PUD Energy Block Party in Everett, WA, which currently has 47 vehicles registered as attending and includes something called a “Truckstravaganza.” April 27, 11am-2pm.
  • Salem Kicks Gas in Salem, MA with a large variety of EVs on display and test drives from local dealers, along with e-bike and other battery-powered outdoor equipment displays. April 28, 1pm-4pm.

Each event has a different assortment of activities (e.g. test drives won’t be available at every event, generally just the larger ones attended by local dealerships), so be sure to check the events page to see what the plan is for your local event.

These events have offered a great way to connect with owners and see the newest electric vehicle tech, and even get a chance to do test rides and drives in person. Attendees got to hear unfiltered information from actual owners about the benefits and trials of owning EVs, allowing for longer and more genuine (and often more knowledgeable) conversations than one might normally encounter at a dealership.

And if you’re an owner – you can show off your car and answer those questions for interested onlookers.

To view all the events and see what’s happening in your area, you can check out the list of events or the events map. You can also sign up to volunteer at your local events, and if you plan to show off your electric car, you can RSVP on each event page and list the vehicle that you plan to show (or see what other vehicles have already registered).

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Kia EV5 GT leak reveals sporty electric SUV design

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Kia EV5 GT leak reveals sporty electric SUV design

A new Kia electric SUV is getting the GT treatment. Images leaking out of China are giving us our first look at the Kia EV5 GT trim.

Meet Kia’s new EV5 electric SUV

Kia officially unveiled the EV5, its new compact electric SUV, at the Chengdu Motor Show in August. Branded as a family-friendly SUV, the EV5 features Kia’s new “Opposites United ” design.

You can see several elements pulled from Kia’s larger EV9 like the redesigned “Tiger Face” grille, which replaces the signature “Tiger Nose.” It retains the EV9’s boxy, rugged look but in a smaller package.

Aimed at millennials, Kia designed the interior for more than getting from point A to point B. Kia considered it an additional “room” to live in.

It also includes Kia’s next-gen connected car Navigation Cockpit (ccNC) with dual 12.3″ display screens and a 5″ climate control display.

At 4,615 mm long, 1,875 mm wide, and 1,715 mm tall, the EV5 will rival Tesla’s top-selling Model Y (L – 4,760 mm, W – 1,921 mm, H – 1,624 mm).

Kia-EV5-GT-leak
Kia EV5 electric SUV (Source: Kia)

Kia launched the EV5 in China at around $20,000 (149,800 yuan). Powered by a 64.2 kWh BYD Blade battery pack, the base EV5 features up to 329 miles (530 km) CLTC range. The long-range, 88.1 kWh battery pack model is good for up to 447 (720 km) CLTC range.

In Australia, where the EV5 is imported, it will cost around $46,000 (70,000 AUS). An entry-level Air trim is expected to undercut the Tesla Model Y in the region, which starts at around $43,160 (65,400 AUD).

Kia-EV5-GT-leak
Kia EV5 battery options and range (Source: Kia)

Kia EV5 GT leak reveals new sporty electric SUV design

We are getting our first look at the Kia EV5 GT after leaked images from China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Tech (MIIT) released official images and specs of the vehicle.

As you can see, there are not many differences on the outside. There is added black trim on the lower front bumper. However, other Kia GT vehicles also include subtle visual differences. The big difference maker is in the performance.

The EV5 GT will feature a dual motor system, with a 215 hp (160 kW) front and 98 hp (73 kW) rear electric motor, for a combined 313 hp output.

Although the final details have yet to be revealed, the EV5 GT is expected to have 0 to 60 mph capabilities in under 6.5 seconds.

Kia’s new electric SUV is not the only one getting the GT treatment. All of Kia’s new EVs, including the EV2, EV3, and EV4, are expected to gain a GT trim.

Kia's-EV2-video
Kia EV lineup from left to right: EV6, EV4, EV5, EV3, EV9 (Source: Kia)

They will join the EV6 GT, which packs 576 hp for a 0 to 60 mph sprint in 3.2 seconds. Kia put the EV6 GT up to the test against a Ferrari Roma and Lamborghini Huracan Evo Spyder RWD and beat both off the line.

Earlier today, we got our first glimpse of the low-cost EV2 out testing in public. The EV2 is expected to be Kia’s cheapest EV with starting prices around $15,000 (20 million Won). You can watch the video here.

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Podcast: Tesla layoffs, all-in on Robotaxi, shareholders vote, and more

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Podcast: Tesla layoffs, all-in on Robotaxi, shareholders vote, and more

On the Electrek Podcast, we discuss the most popular news in the world of sustainable transport and energy. In this week’s episode, we discuss Tesla’s massive round of layoffs, Elon Musk putting Tesla all-in on Robotaxi, important shareholders vote, and more.

The show is live every Friday at 4 p.m. ET on Electrek’s YouTube channel.

As a reminder, we’ll have an accompanying post, like this one, on the site with an embedded link to the live stream. Head to the YouTube channel to get your questions and comments in.

After the show ends at around 5 p.m. ET, the video will be archived on YouTube and the audio on all your favorite podcast apps:

We now have a Patreon if you want to help us avoid more ads and invest more in our content. We have some awesome gifts for our Patreons and more coming.

Here are a few of the articles that we will discuss during the podcast:

Here’s the live stream for today’s episode starting at 4:00 p.m. ET (or the video after 5 p.m. ET):

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