Costa Rica is popular as an ecological paradise with over 98% of its electricity needs being met by clean energy. In the context of the automotive industry, however, the story is different, with the country lagging behind with 600 out of 1.4 million private vehicles running on electricity instead of gas or diesel. And, experts reiterate that the situation would be changing soon.
Bernal Muñoz, a director at Costa Rica’s electricity institute (ICE) stated that the number of vehicles on the roads had doubled in 2017. He also stated that studies done by the University of Costa Rica with mathematical models highlighted the growth rate. The Director added that in five years, there would be around 40,000 electric vehicles.
It is reported that ICE was leading the way, after having purchased a fleet of 100 electric vehicles, which would replace the same number of fuel-powered ones. Muñoz highlighted that the aim of the project was to demonstrate that the electric vehicle could adapt to the topographical conditions of the country.
Meanwhile, the state postal service of Costa Rica also purchased 30 electric motorcycles for its employees to use on their rounds. In the context, First Lady Claudia Dobles stated that they had proposed the transition towards a fleet of electric vehicles, facilitating the process, so that public institutions would buy zero-emission vehicles.
Costa Rica is poised as a world leader in the context of green energy. And according to Carlos Echeverria, a senior regional specialist at the Inter-American Development Bank, the country was an ideal place to promote clean transport. He added that the government wanted to convert the country into a laboratory for the decarbonisation of the economy.
Meanwhile, in Costa Rica, the focus is on private cars even though there are discussions with transport businesses to launch electric buses. And in 2019, it would start installing a network of 40 recharging stations that would be distributed throughout the country and have around eight new stations to be built each year. It has been reported that three companies in Costa Rica would be importing new electric cars are Hyundai, Nissan, and BMW. Priced at $30,000 to $50,000 per vehicle, they would allegedly be beyond the means of the vast majority of the middle classes of Costa Rica. The tax exemptions applied in the electric transport strategy of Costa Rica could benefit as used cars reportedly sell for half the price of a new one.
In the context, Mariano Avalos, a businessman began importing used electric cars from the United States 18 months ago when he noticed a change in the domestic market. Avalos expects around 1,800 electric cars on the streets of Costa Rica in 2019.