Islands Becoming Popular Destination for EVs

By · April 18, 2012

Cayman Islands

Islands offer many ideal conditions for PEVs, including: short driving distances (limited by geography), expensive gas, local motivation to reduce carbon emissions, higher income residents and tourists who can afford the vehicle premium, and abundant sun to enable solar EV charging.

When looking for the perfect environment for selling electric vehicles, look to island resorts. Companies offering plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs) and charging equipment are making inroads in many of the world's top vacation spots including Hawaii, Bermuda, the Cayman Islands and Singapore.

Islands offer many ideal conditions for PEVs, including:

  • Short driving distances (limited by geography)
  • Expensive gas
  • Local motivation to reduce carbon emissions
  • Higher income residents and tourists who can afford the vehicle premium
  • Abundant sun to enable solar EV charging

These factors add up to islands logically being at the forefront of PEV adoption. Many islands can be circled without depleting an EV's battery, so drivers can forget about range anxiety. Many island governments and cultures stress sustainability due to concerns about rising ocean levels, such as in Kiribati, where they are considering drastic measures. Many tourists won't mind paying a premium for renting a zero-emissions vehicle as well as for the convenience of not having to refuel the car.

The Caribbean is home to two such PEV initiatives. Car seller Cayman Automotive Leasing is bringing EVs to its hometown islands, as well as to Bermuda. Amp Electric Vehicles has signed a deal with solar EV charging station company U-Go Stations to import its converted electric SUVs into Bermuda as well. The Bermudan government encourages EV adoption by waving the import tariff for the vehicles, according to U-Go Stations president Bill Policastro. Solar charging stations can make economic sense on islands that often have high electricity prices as they can produce power at peak times and sell excess to the grid.

In Hawaii, where a regular gallon of gas now costs $4.55, according to AAA's fuel gauge report, EV services company Better Place is rolling out an EV charging network across the islands and has installed 70 public charging stations. PEV owners on Oahu, Maui, Kauai and the Big Island can even charge their cars for free for this year at any of the public charging stations. According to Pike Research's Electric Vehicle Geographic Forecasts report, with a population of only 1.3 million people, Hawaii is expected to have more than 14,000 PEVs on its roads by 2017, which would place it ahead in PEV adoption of much larger states including Kansas, Utah and South Carolina.

Better Place is similarly targeting the Japanese islands as well as the "island continent" of Australia for its EV charging services.

Singapore is home to EV infrastructure startup Greenlots, which is building a network of charging stations across the city-state as well as selling charging equipment to other islands in the region.

With their small geographies, islands can be covered with sufficient public charging infrastructure at a more reasonable cost since the vehicles will never be far from a charging station. Driving an electric vehicle in a tropical paradise can be both carefree and emissions free.

New to EVs? Start here

  1. Seven Things To Know About Buying a Plug-In Car
    A few simple tips before you visit the dealership.
  2. Incentives for Plug-in Hybrids and Electric Cars
    Take advantage of credits and rebates to reduce EV costs.
  3. Buying Your First Home EV Charger
    You'll want a home charger. Here's how to buy the right one.