So is this new generation of EVs the way forward for Bermuda? Should we be considering this automotive alternative:

a) because of the savings we can achieve year on year given the price of gas, oil and maintenance of cars with combustion engines?

b) to appease our moral values and play an active role in sustaining our environment and slowing down global climate change by reducing carbon emissions and by not eating up the very last remaining drops of fossil-fuels on our planet?

c) because noise pollution is becoming an important issue as our island paradise is increasingly overrun by cars, motorcycles and mopeds, and an EV is akin to a sailing vessel gliding soundlessly through a sea of outboard engines?

Greenrock believes all three of these elements should make the decision to buy an EV crystal clear.

The Incentives

To help offset the cost of purchasing an EV, the government of the day should be offering incentives, as they do in many other places worldwide. Really the government should be leading the way on this issue if they truly wish to help create a better world or, at least in our case, a better Bermuda.

Here are some examples of possible incentives:

  • Zero duty on EVs and their associated spare parts … especially the batteries, which can amount to a quarter of the cost of an EV. Batteries are currently dutiable at 33.5 percent. In addition, only electric cycles and cars are duty free. Funny that the worst emitters of noxious fumes, internal combustion engine (ICE) trucks and vans, cannot be imported at that 0 percent incentive rate!

  • A reduced vehicle licence rate for EVs, because they do not impact on the environment as the ICE vehicles do. No emissions, no oil spilled on roads (the Road Safety Council will like that!), no oil to be collected and shipped overseas at high expense.

  • Rebates are offered in many countries, rewarding the buyers who care. These are given out by national governments as an incentive to import EVs.

  • Doubtless, congestion charges will be introduced in Hamilton in the near future. These fees should be waived for EVs, as they are currently in many cities.

  • Special parking bays, with charging outlets, created in the high-traffic areas of Hamilton and St. George’s and perhaps even at the airport. Greenrock knows that large companies with private parking are keen to reduce their carbon footprint, and eventually regulation should require these companies to provide EV parking bays as well.

  • Reduced duty rates on alternative energy sources that can be used to charge EVs.

  • Reduced insurance rates from local suppliers.

The Vehicles

As for the car models, there are quite a few options available. But please understand that you will not be purchasing a luxury EV just yet, even though in some cases the price of an EV can be equivalent to that of a gas-guzzling ICE semi-luxury car.

Having said that, however, the Spyder (Britain) and the Tesla Roadster (USA, pictured above) are both in the six-figure range, yet they are in high demand and have to be pre-ordered through waiting lists. These sports models feature faster acceleration than the top European sports cars and can travel more than 100 mph. The celebs love them! They are truly the crème de la crème.

Europe seems to be ahead in the proliferation of the EVs. However, with the price of fuel these days, the Americans on the other side of the pond are cracking along with their neighbourhood electric vehicles (NEVs) and producing some highway-rated models. Converted Mini Coopers and various other well-known car models are also available at retail prices of $50,000 plus.

The electric vehicles of today are still in their infancy and are somewhat crude in comparison to what most islanders drive. Bermudians are known for their material pleasures but, as with the Ford Model-T, we have to start somewhere and this is where our moral side kicks in – ‘Hey, I don’t need all the plush upholstery or the speed (certainly not with Bermuda’s speed limits).’

aixam1.jpgSome examples of the models that are currently available are the ZENN, Miles, Phoenix, G-Wiz, Aixam (pictured right) and Think, to name a few. These are entry-level vehicles that max at about 45 to 65 km/h and can travel for 60 to 80 kilometres between charges.

This author has owned a modest 1000cc Suzuki Vanette for more than 10 years and has been very happy with it. He is desperate to import an electric van and will do so as soon as the duty rate drops to zero to match that for the cars. Unfortunately electric van prices at present just can’t compete with the prices of existing ICE vans sold locally.

The Technology

This article's earlier description of EVs as crude must be ammended. They have come a long way in the past year. Really the drawback for the current generation of EVs is their top speed and travel distance, which are governed by the fuel cell (a battery pack and charging system). But these issues should not be a problem for us in Bermuda as we have a low speed limit and we don’t travel far.

Battery technology is moving full steam ahead, with lithium batteries, nano-technology and super capacitors that will offer greater distances than a full tank of carbon-based fuel. Once these new systems are tested and mass produced, the EV will come down in price – the chassis and cab do not determine the cost, it is the technology. Remember cell phones a few years ago? The chunky, basic-but-expensive, must-have phone has now given way to the stylish, multifunctional, inexpensive, must-have-two-of-them phone. Where there were few cell phone towers, they now dot the skyline.

The Conclusion

Greenrock sees Bermuda as the ideal setting for a proliferation of EVs. As an affluent nation, cost should not factor in that much. With such a learned populace as ours, we should WANT and DEMAND vehicles that will not impact on the environment like the ICEs do. A little sacrifice for the sake of our world and the future of our island really is in order – hopefully we are not too late.

As an addendum, Greenrock has made a strong case against expanding the use of hybrid cars in Bermuda. They may seem to be the cure-all for our predicament, but bear this in mind, prospective suppliers and owners of hybrids. EVs have a maximum of 250 working spare parts, ICE vehicles have 1,500-plus, and hybrids, with their two power trains, carry a heavy load of 2,500-plus parts. Think about that in terms of servicing and maintenance!

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