toyota-prius-cThe Toyota Prius C is the smallest and least expensive hybrid car offered by Toyota. Now available at Bermuda Motors.

Greenrock has long advocated the position that electric vehicles are ideal in Bermuda, preferably allied with a charging infrastructure and time-of-day electricity tariffs that encourage charging at night.

There are currently few electric (or diesel) vehicles available in Bermuda.However, there are currently few electric vehicles available in Bermuda and those that are are not always practical. Most families can't imagine doing without their car, and unfortunately the island infrastructure is set up for car transport. Until that changes we will continue to want cars. But it is possible to choose a car on the island today which has a smaller impact on the environment.

So what is a good choice?

Your best-to-worst choice in order of environmental impact is:

  1. Electric vehicles (EVs)
  2. Hybrid vehicles (HEVs)
  3. Diesel vehicles
  4. Smaller and fuel efficient petrol (ICE) vehicles
  5. Larger or fuel in-efficient vehicles. In Bermuda, this includes SUVs, which are a poor choice.

 

Electric Vehicles (EVs)

So why are electric vehicles more environmentally friendly in Bermuda than internal combustion engine ('ICE' – use petrol or diesel) when they are still using BELCO's electricity to charge, and BELCO generates the electricity using diesel fuel oil?

The short answer is that BELCO's big diesel engines are much more efficient at generating power than an internal combustion engine in a car. This means that even when charged by plugging it in at home, an electric car is the most environmentally friendly choice.

Electric vehicles are available today in Bermuda from The Green House Bermuda, ranging in price from $30,000 to $35,000 depending on the options selected. Continental Motors will shortly bring in a fully electric car.

Micheal Burke of The Green House Bermuda with his e-ride all electric vehicle.

In Bermuda, the one car per household policy makes embracing an EV as your only residential car quite a leap of faith.

The problems perceived with electric vehicles are;

1) they have historically been rather small and therefore a tough choice for families. That, however is changing fast and some of the new electric deans are in fact too big for the Bermuda market.

2) people tend to worry that they will run out of charge while they are a long way from home ... a phenomenon known as range anxiety. While rather off-putting for new drivers, range is less of an issue in Bermuda and anxiety can be easily overcome by just getting used to how far you can drive when the battery is low (after all we do this automatically when the tank is low in a regular car).

 

Hybrid Vehicles (HEVs)

If you can't see yourself in an electric car then gasoline-electric hybrids, in the shape of a Toyota Prius C, are now available at Bermuda Motors starting at $39,500. Hybrids are undoubtedly a more environmentally friendly choice than any pure ICE car. 'Hybrid' cars have both an ICE and an electric motor. Hybrid vehicles make use of both an ICE and an electric motor.The car uses the electric motor preferentially and only switches to the ICE when it needs a little extra acceleration (or if the battery runs out – eliminating range anxiety). The battery is charged while the ICE engine is running and also when the car is braking (by means of regenerative braking). In low speed conditions and in stop/start driving (i.e. typical Bermuda conditions) battery charging is optimal, so the hybrid is at its most efficient. The Toyota Prius is the world's best selling hybrid car, with cumulative global sales of 2.8 million units through October 2012. The disadvantage of a hybrid car is that is has a much more complicated drive train than a regular car as it essentially has two engines. This means it takes more energy to manufacture and is potentially harder to service. However, in cradle to grave assessments of environmentally friendly cars the hybrids still consistently beat out pure ICE cars, and in more than a decade of driving they have proven to be reliable family cars.

Hybrid and fully electric cars use regenerative braking systems to charge the batteries.

Bear in mind that hybrids are basically a transition technology. The cleanest, most efficient energy source for transport is electricity. EVs also reduce noise pollution, eliminate oil spills on the roads and the need to dispose of waste oil.

 

Diesel Vehicles

A quick note on diesel vs petrol carbon footprint: Diesel cars have fewer emissions, and higher burning efficiency and so are better for the environment. However they tend to come with a higher price tag and are hard to find in Bermuda as a regular family car.

 

Changing the Mindset

Government needs to support fuel efficient vehicle technology, starting with eliminating import duty on EVs, charging stations and parts. While private electric cars are already duty free, commercial electric vehicles attract 12.5% duty - which puts them outside most business's budget. TCD fees and policies for EVs need to be sanity checked. For example, why does TCD emissions test electric vehicles? Does it make sense to determine the class of a private car and associated annual TCD fees based purely on the length of the vehicle, without considering fuel source? Government also has a huge opportunity to show leadership by choosing EVs for their own fleet.

Several countries have already introduced legislation for incentives on electric and hybrid vehicles.

  • In the UK, electric car sales accelerated in 2012 following the launch of a £5,000 government grant scheme. UK drivers also benefit from the lowest band of vehicle excise duty (car tax), which is based on carbon dioxide emissions. In central London, these vehicles are also exempt from the £8 daily London congestion charge.
  • In the US, state and federal tax credits are available on fuel efficient vehicles. EVs purchased in or after 2010 may be eligible for a federal income tax credit of up to $7,500. In practise, these tax credits mean that a 2013 Nissan LEAF electric car with an MSRP of $28,800 will cost the buyer as little as $19,000.
  • In Canada, three provincial governments representing 75 percent of the Canadian population (Ontario, Quebec, and British Columbia) stepped up in 2012 with purchase rebates of up to C$8,500 for early adopters of plug-in vehicles.
  • Ireland launched a scheme in 2010 to deploy 1,500 electrical recharging stations for use with EVs, plus 30 high voltage fast charging units providing a high speed recharge facility every 60·km on interurban routes. Electricity supplied from these recharging points will be free initially.
  • Free parking is offered to EVs in Copenhagen and other cities, and there is free recharging at some parking spaces.

As we wait for and canvas our government to 'catch-up', we finally have more choices here in Bermuda. We can 'vote with our wallet' and choose a greener car.

greenest_vehicles_2003The Greenest Vehicles 2013 list, published by US non-profit greenercars.org, a unique consumer resource providing Green Scores rating the environmental friendliness of every vehicle on market.

To learn more, visit greenercars.org, greencarinstitute.org or greencarreports.com.

P.S. Next month we can write about tips to drive green whatever your car!

About Greenrock

According to The Footprint Network, which measures the ability of the planet to produce resources and absorb waste, our resource use and waste production is 60% more than the earth can produce or absorb annually.

This overshoot is the result of decisions that we each make every day. We seek to generate debate and to influence people to change their behaviour.We strive to be catalysts: Success for us is when we can Change the Mindset so that sustainable use of resources is included in decision-making for individuals, government or businesses. ... read more


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Hamilton HM11, Bermuda

Telephone: 1-441-747-ROCK (7625)
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