Inadequate information causes low public appeal for electric cars

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As Antigua and Barbuda unveils its ambitious plan to transition from fossil fuel vehicles to the electric variant, one operator in the know says the slow uptake of electric vehicles is a result of a lack of public education on the potential benefits.
Stanley Barreto is a renewable energy developer with the firm Megapower Antigua, a provider of renewable energy products and services, with branches in Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago.
“In Antigua we’ve seen the slowest response in any island we’ve ever seen. I would say lack of knowledge is one. The general public needs to be more educated and that’s something we’re working on; we’re always talking in the schools,” he said.
According to Barreto, public information on local sustainable energy programmes is scarce, unlike in more developed markets and places like Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago.
But that appears to be changing as the Department of Environment this week embarked on a public relations blitz which was prompted in part by the controversy surrounding the purchase of a luxury electric car for its subject minister to drive.
Chief Environment Officer Diann Black-Layne recently revealed that they have been working on a policy document to present to the Cabinet and the completed product should answer any question that arises.
And with the department becoming accredited to the Green Climate Fund on October 1 – a possible avenue to finance the transition – Black-Layne is optimistic about the future.
“We’re not ready yet; we have all the documents that say what it is we need to do so we’re going to expand on it,” she said while noting that they were working aggressively on that front. “The Green Climate Fund has not received any project proposal for transportation projects so they’re actually quite excited to get one especially from a small island developing state because this is where we can easily do this,” she stated.
However, enthusiasm and economic reality do not always co-exist peaceably and the environment officer acknowledged that the acquisition of an electric vehicle at this time could be prohibitive.
“They are quite expensive. However, in the long run, they still will work out to be cheaper than a second- hand vehicle from Japan but they’re much more expensive. And if you don’t qualify for that capital upfront to purchase those types of vehicles, it’s totally out of your range,” she said.
(More in today’s Daily Observer)

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