QCOSTARICA – Costa Rica wants to stimulate the sale and use of electric or hybrid vehicles in the country with proposed tax incentives, but only if they are a plug-in electric vehicle (PEV).

The “Proyecto de Ley de Incentivo y Promoción para el Transporte Eléctrico” (Bill of Incentive and Promotion for Electric Transport), currently pending in the Legislature, provides for tax incentives for vehicles 100% electric. The objective is to reduce consumption of oil and polluting gases.

Plug-in cars have several benefits compared to conventional internal combustion engine vehicles, they have lower operating and maintenance costs, and produce little or no local air pollution.

The “Proyecto de Ley” approved in Committee two weeks ago with the support of all parliamentary factions, is soon to hit the legislative floor for debate and vote.

In parallel, the Compañía Nacional de Fuerza y Luz (CNFL) – national power and light utility – said it would be installing more slow recharge stations for public use in agreement with car dealers and private companies.

View of the first EV electric carts CNFL on its roster of Anonos (Escazu). The transport sector is responsible for two thirds of oil consumption and 34% of emissions in Costa Rica, according to the Ministry of Environment and Energy. | MARCELA BERTOZZI.
The first electrica car charing station (electrolinera) by the CNFL   in La Sabana.  Photo Marcela Bertozzi, La Nacion

Allan Blanco, director of Electric Transportion at the CNFL, said they will open two stations this year in San Jose and Heredia, this in addition to the La Sabana station currently operating.

Bavarian Motors Costa Rica, the BMW dealer, has recharge stations at its dealerships in Curridabat, Escazú and La Uruca. Rossella Mirabelli, Project manager for Bavarian Motors, said their stations would be open to other brands at no charge for recharging.

According to the La Nacion report, Grupo Roble (owners of Multiplaza), Portafolio Inmobiliario (Avenida Escazú) and Veinsa (the Mitsubishi dealer) have expressed interest in joining the alliance put forward by the CNFL.

If the Bill is approved it would mean a drastic reduction in the retail price of electric cars.

BMW-Concept-X5-eDrive-placement1-626x382Mirabelli explained that the BMW X5 Hydrid that now sells for US$98,000 would drop to US$82,000 (US$16,000 less).

By September of this year, Bavarian Motors will start selling the I3 hatchback 100% electric car at between US$55,000 and US$60.000. If the law passes, the cost would come down by US$14,000.

At Viensa, Kenneth Gonzalez, manager of Bidding, estimates its hybrid Outlander PHEV (currently selling for US$48,000) would drop between US$6,000 and US$8,000 with the passing of the law.

The Nissan dealer (Agencia Datsun) says it will next year start selling the Nissan Leaf at about US$45,000.

The Nissan Leaf is the world's all-time best selling highway-capable electric car. Global Leaf sales passed the 200,000 unit milestone in December 2015, five years after its introduction.
The Nissan Leaf is the world’s all-time best selling highway-capable electric car. Global Leaf sales passed the 200,000 unit milestone in December 2015, five years after its introduction.

No word from the Toyota dealer, Purdy Motor, on its plans for the future of its electric vehicles. Toyota launched in Japan in January 2012 the Prius Plug-in Hybrid. As of December 2015, about 75,000 Prius PHVs had been sold worldwide. (In our report of Feburary 2015, Purdy Motors said it will be bringng in 2018 to Costa Rica the first hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle.)

Not thrilled on the government’s plans is the Cámara Costarricense Automotriz, criticizes that theses vehicles are for short distances, an average of 150 kilometres between charges, and for those with money.

On Monday, it issued a statement in which it described the plan as “a gift from the goverment for those people with a lot of money and sellers of new cars.”

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