By NATARIO McKENZIE
Tribune Business Reporter
A Bahamian electric car dealer said yesterday the Minnis administration's plan to reduce the import duty for electric vehicles from 25 percent to ten percent demonstrates a "serious commitment" to improving the environment, adding that it could incentivise Bahamians to turn to electric vehicles.
Pia Farmer, a director at Easy ECO Car Sales, told Tribune Business yesterday: "I am naturally very pleased that the Bahamas Government is encouraging cleaner, cheaper and more efficient transportation by reducing the import duty for electric vehicles from 25 percent to ten percent, and also for their replacement batteries from 40 percent to ten percent. This shows a serious commitment to improving our environment by reducing harmful emissions, noise pollution, and ensuring more efficient use of resources. Data shows that EVs are almost four times more efficient in the use of fuel than conventional combustion engine vehicles."
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance K Peter Turnquest said yesterday during the budget presentation: "In respect to vehicles, the express policy intent is to expand and enhance the noteworthy policy objective of the former administration to encourage the import and sale of more fuel efficient cars and trucks. Through this policy that we are today expanding, the country has seen a rise in the import and use of electric and hybrid vehicles and a build-up of the support systems for same. This administration wishes to continue to encourage a transition to same."
He pointed out that government is restricting the landed price ceiling to $50,000 for hybrids and electrical vehicles to avoid persons bringing in luxury hybrid vehicles at the reduced duty level. "Our policy rationale is that if you can afford a luxury vehicle, you can pay the standard vehicle excise duty rate.
"We are also making brand new small vehicles much more affordable with the duty rate on those vehicles being set at 25 percent. In addition to the fuel efficiency of smaller vehicles generally speaking - which can reach efficiency levels of some hybrids - these vehicles are much better suited to small islands or congested cities."
Mrs Farmer told Tribune Business: "Electric vehicles are solar-ready, so by charging from solar power at home or at work, we can help to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels and help us to achieve our national energy goals. Most importantly, this incentive of lower duty rates can empower Bahamians to join the worldwide evolution in transportation to electric, and drastically reduce the amount of money spent on gasoline and maintaining combustion engines. The Bahamas Government was already committed to EVs with a growing fleet of 100 percent electric cars used by several ministries. Our government has already understood the benefits, and I'm very happy that the public will now also be empowered to share in the financial benefits while reducing their carbon footprint."