As gas prices at the pumps continue to fluctuate and environmentalists decry the impact fossil fuel emissions are having on climate change, promoting the use of electric vehicles (EV) will be the next big venture for Grand Bahama Power Company (GBPC), according to President Dave McGregor.
Within the next year, GBPC will resume its vehicle electrification program which it had in place prior to Hurricane Dorian.
“Before the storm, we had embarked on an aggressive vehicle electrification campaign, promoting the use of electric vehicles,” McGregor said.
“We had 16 (electric) cars that got flooded and written off, along with more than 60 conventional vehicles and trucks.”
He noted that the GBPC will work with an importer on New Providence to ship more EVs to the island, as the company begins to replenish its fleet.
“So, over the course of the next year, we’re going to be reinstalling our electrical vehicle charging points and adding several others,” McGregor said.
Charging stations/points are public or private spaces where EV owners can plug in their vehicle chargers to re-energize the battery.
GBPC had free charging stations -– at its head office, its Cedar Street suboffice and its West Sunrise plant.
“We want to work with strategic partners, including supermarkets, restaurants, and the Grand Bahama Port Authority to install at least six more next year,” McGregor said.
The new charging stations will be free to GBPC customers, initially, he added; thereafter, consumers will be charged a minimal rate.
“We anticipate making the charging ports free for about two years,” McGregor said.
“Our goal is to incentivize residents to operate EVs.
“The car I had charged once every two weeks. It cost me about $4 to charge and would run me for two weeks.”
This compares to the $80 to $100 it now costs to fill up at the gas pump.
McGregor noted the only downside to owning an EV is the purchase price.
“Now, with better vehicles on the market, the price for a new electric vehicle can start anywhere from $30,000 to $40,000 and up but, overall, in the long term, they are simply better on maintenance,” he said.
The top EV manufacturers are listed as Tesla, BMW, Nissan, Chevrolet, Ford, Volkswagen and Kia.
Noted news photographer and videographer Tim Aylen, who was interested in electric cars long before they were mainstream, swears by his EV.
“The savings are great because you don’t have to do regular services on the vehicle, as it doesn’t have an engine,” said Aylen, who bought his Nissan Leaf in 2018.
“It runs on an electric motor. So, you have no oil, no spark plugs, no pistons, no transmission fluid.”
He added, “Your only worry is tires and brake fluid. The battery flips off itself once it’s charged, and charging depends on how much you drive.”
EVs’ range (miles driven on battery life/charge) is listed with sale prices on several websites.
Greencars.com has the 2022 Kia Niro EV starting at $39,990 with a 239-mile range.
Driving range varies by the car’s kWh battery pack and the motor’s horsepower.
Aylen’s Nissan range is about 185 miles with a 64 kWh battery.
“I just charge it every couple of days because you never completely drain it,” he said.
“The car comes with a charging cord, and you plug into a regular 110v electrical outlet. It does not need a special plug or electrical work.”
Aylen, who charges his car at home, added that there is a small, barely noticeable percentage increase to his electricity bill.
“If you are spending $100 to fill up a vehicle, to charge an EV to go the same distance, you are spending about $5 or $10 for electricity,” he said.
“I would recommend anybody to get an electric car. It’s definitely the future.”
The future is the basis of many environmental activists’ stance when discussing the elimination of fossil fuels.
Founder of EARTHCARE Gail Woon believes that electric cars are slowly becoming the preference for environmentally conscious drivers, and as climate change becomes more of a crisis.
“They use less or in some cases no fossil fuel, however, one has to consider the source of the electricity used to charge the electric cars,” Woon said.
“Is the power source you are using from fossil fuel?”
Ideally, she added, it should be a power source from a renewable energy source, such as solar or wind energy, to be truly considered environmentally friendly.
Woon noted that she will be transitioning from fuel to electric as soon as she is able.
“If we can stop the use of fossil-fueled cars and transition to electric cars, then greenhouse gas emissions will be reduced,” she said.
Projections on the website Project Drawdown estimate that between 7.66 to 9.76 gigatons of carbon-dioxide-equivalent greenhouse gas emissions could be avoided if 866 million to 1.2 billion EVs join the fleet by 2050.
In a September 2021 report, UHY Bain & Associates, a Bahamian affiliate in the global accounting network that analyzed 2020 electric car sales worldwide, noted that The Bahamas was the eighth largest year-to-year EV sales market in the world.
UHY’s Managing Partner John Bain said in the report that while The Bahamas only sold 77 EVs in 2020, compared to the year before when 33 EVs were sold, momentum in the local market was continuing to build.
There have been no figures released for 2022, to date.