By NATARIO McKENZIE
Tribune Business Reporter
A Bahamian electric car dealer yesterday said the total elimination of import duties on such vehicles would be "a big game changer".
Pia Farmer, a director at Easy ECO Car Sales, told Tribune Business: "I have officially requested and lobbied the Ministry of Finance for the elimination of duty on electric cars, which is now set at 25 per cent, the same as Hybrids. Also, replacement EV batteries and chargers, which are now levied at a whopping 45 per cent, bearing in mind solar batteries are duty free.
"If the Minister has indicated an intention to reduce or eliminate duties on these, it will be a big game changer for the adoption of 100 per cent electric vehicles in the Bahamas, in alignment with worldwide trends towards clean and cheaper transportation. Sales of EVs grew by 77 per cent worldwide last year."
Romauld Ferriera, the environment and Housing minister, during his Budget contribution last week, said: "There is currently a 25 per cent tariff on the import of electric vehicles. Consequently, electric vehicles were introduced to the Bahamian market at a low level.
"Despite this proposed improvement, it appears to be cheaper to purchase a conventional vehicle. My Ministry proposes to eliminate the tariff on electric and hybrid vehicles in the Bahamian market."
Mr Ferriera said using hybrid and plug-in electric vehicles, instead of conventional ones, can help reduce the Bahamas' reliance on imported petroleum.
Ms Farmer said: "If our government does eliminate duties on EVs, chargers and replacement batteries, it means that electric cars will be affordable for Bahamians. The cost savings will be reflected in the purchase price, but also allow Bahamians to dramatically reduce the daily cost of their transportation needs, which is a big deal for people on a budget.
"Running an EV costs about 5 cents per mile in electricity here - almost a quarter of the cost of gasoline - and EVs can be charged from alternative renewable sources like solar. Now that BPL and URCA have agreed on a policy for implementation of home production of electricity from solar, we are fast approaching the day when people will produce their own power at home, and charge their EV in the garage using their own source of electricity.
"The cost of maintaining and servicing a combustion engine completely disappears with an EV, which has 1,000 fewer parts than a conventional car. There is no oil change or spark plugs, no radiator or transmission to deal with, so it is not only cleaner, but also cheaper, and EVs are so much simpler and easier to run."
Ms Farmer added: "The Government of the Bahamas currently has eight Nissan Leafs, as they have recognised the benefits not only for the environment, but especially to their budget. No gas expenses, very little maintenance and virtually no time off the road with service problems.
"When the Government saves on their transportation expenses, and we reduce our need for expensive foreign oil, it benefits all of us who pay taxes. BPL has two Leafs, and has ordered two more, and they are committed to replacing all their fleet with EVs. They are also offering free charging at their Blue Hill Road headquarters for EV drivers."