Electric car at Trafalgar The future is here; is it for you?
While gliding down from Trafalgar falls to the gentle sounds of nature, as the smell of fresh air fills Dominica’s only electric car on the road, you can only hear the wind in the trees. Like a magic carpet, the Nissan Leaf is building up power in the her batteries and generating interest form passers-by.
Prince Julio Cesar
Dominica’s first electric car was owned by Domlec, the island’s power company. Unfortunately, it was in an accident and is no longer on the road. Dominica’s second electric car is owned by an off grid eco lodge Caapi C ottage Retreats, above Cochrane village. It is a 2015 Nissan Leaf purchased, online. It is s econd -hand from Japan, just US$8000. The cost to charge the car is just less than $10 EC dollars (or roughly $3 USD), if you plug into DOMLEC. Caapi C ottage Retreats uses renewable energy and powers the car for almost free
The first question people ask is “But what about charging it where can I charge the car”. You can charge this car at home by merely plugging it into your house, like a cell phone. You can also charge your car at anyone el se’s house who lets you plug it in. So, there are literally hundreds of places across Dominica where you can charge an electric vehicle. Far more options (to charge an electric vehicle), then there are gas stations (to fill the tank of a gas vehicle)
OK, but “How far can you drive on one charge in Dominica? The rating of this electric car is about 135 km for each charge, however that is on a flat road. Dominica is not flat. On our first test drive in the Leaf we drove from Cochrane across P ond Cassie and to the Kalinago Territory and back to Cochrane on one charge, with a 30% power still in the car. And that was with four people in the car. Second test we drove from Cochrane through Pond Cassie then north to Marigot to the airport. When we arrived at the airport we still had a 90% charge in the battery, why? Because the Nissan Leaf charges the batteries as you are traveling downhill. Every time you break or glide downhill the power is transferred into a generator, turned into electricity and put back into the batteries of the car. At the airport, we turned and drove all the way back to Cochrane and arrived an hour later with 20% of charge left in the car. This car should be able to circumnavigate the island on one charge!
The next question people ask of the only electric car in Dominica is, “What about spare parts and maintenance?” Most people donât know that an electric car has very few moving parts. (less than 150 in an electric car) (A combustion engine car has over 30,000 moving parts) There is no carburetor, no gears, no timing belt, no water pump, oil filters, pistons nor any of the other things that break down with a combustion engine car. For comparison; a gas engine typically has 80+ moving parts, whereas an electric engine has 2 or 3 moving parts. This is why an electric car requires very little maintenance, if any, during its lifetime. So, not only do you save on buying gas (roughly 2000 EC dollars a year, but you can also save on all of those maintenance cost. Even when you plug into DOMLEC, your electric bill may increase slightly, but you still save about 50 % to 70 % on fuel costs. Should there be a problem, then technician may have to come from outside. Barbados has full service technicians for the Nissan Leaf, who could travel to Dominica for repairs, if needed
“How much did it cost and what kind of duties did you have to pay on your electric car?” Previously owned Nissan Leafs are available from Japan for as little as $7000 to $9000 USD
Unfortunately Dominica is far behind much of the world when it comes to legislation and duties on electric vehicles. We have no special concessions for electric vehicles yet, or even for hybrids. Many countries have very favorable concessions in order to support the transition to electric cars. Trinidad and Tobago along with Barbados and Turks and Caicos, Cayman Islands and Jamaica all offer incentives to bring in electric cars
In Dominica , we were able to present a special request to cabinet and the vehicle was granted the same status as any other vehicle owned and given a 50% reduction on import duties, under an existing program under the Ministry of Finance
Hopefully, we will be able to come up with a policy in Dominica to help increase the usage of electric vehicles on our N ature Island. We need to move away from burning fossil fuels as much as possible, given the reality of climate change and the instability of oil the supply in the region and around the world. As we in Dominica rely heavily on importing oil, the ability to charge our vehicles from renewable energy would be a wonderful step forward in the right direction to becoming the worldâs first climate resilient country!