Thinking about buying an EV? Here's why it's time to make the switch – Jamaica Observer

As we grapple with the economic and environmental effects of our reliance on oil/petrol, could owning an electric vehicle (EV) be the solution to decarbonising our world and is Jamaica ready for the transition?
According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), electric vehicles accounted for 10 per cent of all car sales worldwide in 2021 – four times the market share in 2019. That year, the agency recorded 16.5 million EVs on the world’s roads, triple the amount in 2018.
Furthermore, EV sales performed exceptionally well in 2022, with two million sold in the first quarter, an increase of 75 per cent compared to the same period in 2021. It is evident that electric vehicles are becoming more prominent on our roads and they are revolutionising the transport and climate change narrative globally. This global transformation is inevitable and already underway.
Whilst there has been significant growth in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC), the region still has room for exponential growth. Statista Research Service recorded over 10,000 battery electric vehicles (BEV) and 9,000 plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) in 2021.
Barbados, the Caribbean’s electric vehicle forerunner, has over 600 EVs on its roads. Additionally, there are more than 500 in the Dominican Republic, with the country soon matching that number in evergo charging stations. Bermuda and the Cayman Islands are also among those early EV pioneers, with an EV penetration of almost 800.
Jamaica recorded approximately 10 EVs in 2018. Today, the island has over 200 electric vehicles of varying types, such as motor cars, trucks, and cycles. Despite the low numbers for Jamaica, we anticipate rapid growth.
Unequivocally, fuel prices have compelled people to switch to e-mobility. Despite the energy price escalation, EV charging, compared to gasoline and diesel, offers 25-35 per cent savings even when charging from the grid. Electric vehicles also now attract various tax exemptions globally, particularly for Jamaica, the Government announced a reduction from 35 per cent to 10 per cent on BEVs in 2022.
Other countries also plan to ban internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles by 2030, with car manufacturers discontinuing their ICE fleets as early as 2025. Nevertheless, with enhanced battery technology and cost improvements, increased policy implementation, and as chargers become more widely available, the EV industry will undoubtedly be unstoppable.
Charging in Jamaica
Committed to reducing CO2 emissions worldwide, and achieving a cleaner, more sustainable transport sector, Evergo, the largest, most sophisticated EV charging network, continues to expand its fast-charging infrastructure across Latin America and the Caribbean.
InterEnergy Group, via its innovation division, InterEnergy Systems, debuted its first Evergo charging station in the Dominican Republic (DR), with over 400 chargers installed. The company also launched the eco-friendly subsidiary in Panama, Jamaica, and Uruguay, boasting more than 200 chargers in those territories, with additional stations under construction. Emerging markets include Aruba, Spain, Chile, Mexico, Argentina, and the USA.
Evergo operates two chargers: the semi-fast or level 2/AC charger and the super-fast or level 3/DC charger. The AC charger utilises a J1772 connector, while the CCS1 and CHAdeMo connectors are available on the DC charger. While not all electric vehicles come with these connections; however, once you purchase an adaptor, you can charge without worry. The car model and manufacturer determine the total charge time from both charging units (levels 2 & 3).
Evergo’s level 3 charger can get your EV’s battery to 80 per cent charge in less than 45 minutes and the same percentage in at least two hours and 30 minutes with the semi-fast charger (level two). Moreover, Evergo chargers deliver the fastest charging output of 13.4kWh (level two) and 50kWh (level three), which minimises how long you remain connected to the charger. In addition, charging with public chargers is less time-consuming than charging at home.
The Evergo app is available in the Apple and Google Play stores, enabling you to, after creating an account, consult all charging stations, plan your route, reserve, and pay through a virtual wallet. You can also request an Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) card with the app, which you can also use to initiate the charging process. In Jamaica, Evergo has 50 active chargers islandwide, with more in the construction pipeline. All charging stations and their locations are visible on the map in the Evergo app.
EV Range and ‘Anxiety’
On average, a BEV can travel at least 200km and up to 600km on a full charge. The concern of range anxiety or the fear of running out of charge is one that Evergo understands and is not only committed to raising awareness around the concept but placing electric charging stations strategically around the island, eliminating that fear. This empowers you, the customer, to know that Evergo is with you regardless of the road you take.
New car dealers currently leading the charge with electric cars in Jamaica are Stewart’s Automotive Group (the home of Jaguar and BYD), ATL Autobahn (the home of BMW and MINI), Porsche, and Audi. Used car dealer Jetcon is also a leader in the grey car market with EVs, its top-performing unit being the Nissan Leaf.
Some Evergo team members and one independent EV owner recently tested the range of five popular electric vehicles in Jamaica – BMW i4, Audi e-Tron, Jaguar iPace, Hyundai Kona, and Stewart’s BYD Yuan Plus. The test drive started at Evergo Jamaica’s head office at West Kingston Power Partners on Marcus Garvey Drive. It concluded at Boardwalk Village in Negril, which hosts evergo level two and level three (fast charger) charging stations.
Regarding range, the BMW i4, which can travel 500km on a single charge, outperformed the other EVs, arriving in Negril (via the south coast route) without recharging during the journey. Moreover, the battery capacity reflected that it could make the return trip without charging. In second place were the Kona and the Audi e-tron, and the Jaguar occupied third place.
All cars performed exceptionally in range and speed. Their internal/external features and futuristic add-ons make it worthwhile to invest in these vehicles. More importantly, evergo and Jamaica Public Service strategically place their charging infrastructure at locations where your normal business or leisure stops are lengthy enough to avoid any annoyance of a long wait whilst charging. For example, at Nola’s, the team stopped to have lunch, and by the time we were finished, we achieved enough charge to continue the journey to Negril. At Nola’s, Evergo has a level 3 charger, which completes a 20 to 80 per cent charge in 30 minutes.
While at Boardwalk Village in Negril, the team topped up all four electric vehicles for the journey back to Kingston. The Evergo team returned via the north coast, which included a stop in Fairview, Montego Bay, to check up on another fast charger in front of Scotchies and Texaco. At that point, none of the electric vehicles required charging. However, again, that location represents convenient charging since you can either dine at Scotchies or shop at Texaco’s Grab n Go while you wait. Additionally, you could use all the amenities in the Fairview shopping centre, from banking to hardware.
How much does an EV cost?
The Government’s 10 per cent import duties on BEVs have also paved the way for affordability, therefore, boosting EV sales.
Purchasing an EV yields vast economic savings on operating costs (low maintenance cost and cheaper than petrol). Owning an electric vehicle also creates the opportunity to be part of the responsible set of people helping to save the planet (zero emissions!).
Yes, I know what you are thinking – the price of any EVs mentioned above is significantly more than an internal combustion engine vehicle (ICEV). Like for like, the answer is slightly higher for the etrons but less for the BYDs compared with the RAV4 and CRV. The price difference between the two is narrowing and should continue over the next few years, primarily due to the decline in battery and production costs.
Moya Rose is public relations manager at Jamaica Energy Partners Group and Evergo.
This feature is part of an energy-justice-centric campaign focused on educating you about energy and community sustainability. Send comments to mrose@jamenergy.com
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