The most commonly articulated concern regarding electric vehicle (EV) readiness on Maui is that electric vehicles are considered "too expensive." But the reality is that EVs are becoming very affordable due to a number of factors.
Purchase & lease cost reductions
On a total-cost-of-ownership basis, a recent report* concluded that financial factors, among others, should not deter most purchases of plug-in electric vehicles.
EV IN PARADISE
Maui Electric Vehicle Alliance
EV adoption has surged because new leasing arrangements pass on savings to the consumer from the federal tax credits of $7,500--effectively a one-off discount for those who may otherwise not be able to take advantage because of their income level.
Battery prices decreasing
And as battery prices fall and EV production increases, so will the overall price of the electric vehicle.
Charging equipment more affordable
If plugging into a standard, normal three-prong 110V outlet is not adequate or fast enough for your needs, you may prefer access to 240V or higher voltage charging. The cost of charging includes equipment, installation and electricity.
Equipment costs have fallen greatly since the start of the Maui EVA project nearly two years ago.
The cost of 240-volt level two charging station equipment has fallen from $2,000 to $200, and even as low as $99.**
Similarly, direct current (DC) fast charger equipment, which requires 480 voltage, no longer fetches the six-figure price tag, but can be purchased for as low as $20,000.
Fuji*** offers zero down, zero percent financing of their fast chargers.
Nissan offers a $10,000 incentive towards installation of CHAdeMO-compatible fast chargers if installed by end of March 2014 and another $5,000 if installed before end of 2013.
The U.S. government offers a federal tax credit of up to 30 percent (not to exceed $30,000) toward the cost of the installation of EV infrastructure before the end of 2013.
Cost of electricity less than gas
The cost of electricity is another often-cited barrier in Hawai'i. While it's high compared to the rest of the nation, it's lower and more stable than gasoline prices. Many drivers are motivated to switch to electric vehicles when they have installed a photovoltaic system.
One of the best-kept secrets belongs to those who received tax credits for installing sufficient photovoltaic to include charging for their EVs at a flat rate as low as $18 per month.
Hawaiian Electric Companies' innovative new rate EV-F, the first of its kind for utilities in the U.S., removes the so-called "demand charge" long considered a formidable added cost for DC fast chargers. The new EV-U rate allows its three utilities to operate up to a total of 25 DC fast chargers for public use.
To raise awareness of EVs and support this new technology, many property owners offer free charging on their premises. Hitachi is offering free access to its fast chargers at its five locations on Maui for those EV owners that qualify as volunteers for the JUMPsmart Maui project.
Studies have shown that the provision of charging stations, and in particular, free charging access, motivates EV drivers to stay longer and shop more, which translates to higher spending at box stores like Kohl's.****
Maui EVA meeting
These and other topics will be presented at the "finale" meeting of Maui Electric Vehicle Alliance on Friday, Nov. 15, from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. at the University of Hawai'i Maui College's new science building, 'Ike Le'a, in room 144.
Visit www.mauieva.org for details.
Anne Ku is the director of Maui Electric Vehicle Alliance, a project of UH Maui College. For more information, visit www.mauieva.org.
*Total Cost of Ownership Model for Current Plug-in Electric Vehicles, Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), Technical Report, June 2013, www.epri.com/Press-Releases/Pages/EPRI-Study-Shows-that-Lifetime-Cost-of-Ownership-of-Electric-Vehicles-is-Comparable-with-Conventional-Vehicles.aspx
**EV Charging Station Offers Level 2 Charging For $99, cleantechnica.com/2013/08/09/ev-charging-station-offers-level-2-charging-for-99/#ItF1PPHpf3GIf7rG.99
*** Fuji Electric EV Chargers, www.americas.fujielectric.com/systems/ev-charger/dc-quick-chargers-electric-vehicles-ev
**** Electric Vehicle Charging for Retailers, www.evchargingpros.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/EVCP-EV-Charging-For-Retailers-Feb-2013.pdf