Raise awareness on electric cars, Govt. urged

The Government has been urged to raise more awareness on the viability of electric cars before moving to import them.

Last week, the Electric Power Corporation (E.P.C.) put out notices inviting bidders to supply quotes for charging stations for electric vehicles, confirming the policy push by the Government to begin the transition from fossil-fuel vehicles to a zero-emissions economy.

Under a bill before Parliament, electric cars such as those made popular by the manufacturer Tesla would be able to be imported free of duty and excise taxes. 

However, 72-year-old, Tofilau George Westbrook, of Aleisa, says before the Government acts, there should be awareness on the operation of electric cars.

He said that the responsible thing to do on the Government's part is to engage the public in discussions, including a representative of the electric car manufacturers to do a presentation.

"The Samoan people need to be informed on how much power these vehicles possess and how they can be prepared for cars not powered by petrol and diesel," he said.

"The problem is Samoa has no expertise in these types of vehicles and the people are not fully aware of the impacts these vehicles may have on our lives as well as the environment."

Tofilau said while introducing the vehicles is one thing, having the proper expertise on the island to maintain and provide spare parts is another concern altogether.

"They should have an educational briefing, talk about the insurance of these vehicles, how long will they last?”

"I understand that with electric cars, they have limitations in power in comparison with those who run on gas. And with a totally different type of car, those with electric cars need a different license altogether.

"This is not a complaint but an advice to the Government. Something to consider: we all want Samoans to be safe."

Under the Government’s plans, excise and duties will be waived for the next two years for electric-powered cars, but taxes will apply to the parts of the said vehicles. 

But the proposed law would also have an effect on charging stations. Eligible energy saving items such as plant, equipment and machinery can be determined waiver-free by the relevant Minister as he sees fit.

In 2016 Samoana Rentals owner, Leiataua James Arp, was the first to bring an electric car into the country: a Nissan Leaf.

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