The Race to Vehicle Electrification

May 8th, 2024

Article by: Paul Hadden

Ryan Latchu, President, Automotive Dealers Association of Trinidad and Tobago ww

Ryan Latchu
Automotive Dealers Association of Trinidad and Tobago

As the world continues to move towards cleaner energy sources, many are transitioning from cars with traditional internal combustion engines to electric vehicles. In recent years, one of the most exciting developments in the local automotive industry has been the increased interest in electric and hybrid vehicles and the development of the necessary infrastructure to support such vehicles.

How is the local automotive market adapting to new trends?

Globally we continue to see an increase in the demand for more energy-efficient vehicles and heightened interest in autonomous mobility solutions. While the likelihood of autonomous mobility, specifically driverless cars, may not be readily realised locally, we are seeing consistent interest in hybrid vehicles (HEV) and other variations of energy-efficient vehicles, such as Battery Electric (BEV) and Plug-in Electric (PHEV) vehicles.

What is the rate of electric and hybrid vehicle adoption in T&T?

Our local market is still heavily dominated by traditional automotive vehicle options with internal combustion engines, with upwards of 90% of automotive consumers making this choice annually. However, we recently experienced a surge in hybrid vehicle purchases, with hybrid vehicle sales increasing by 3% between 2017 to 2019. With the reintroduction of tax exemptions in May 2022, which were initially in effect for electric-oriented vehicles from 2016 to 2020, we once again saw an increase in the sale of both hybrid and battery electric vehicles. Sales for this segment continue to trend upward as 2023 is projected to surpass last year’s sales.

What is the range of electric and hybrid vehicles available locally (inventory and pricing)?

Over 20 electric-oriented vehicle models are available locally, ranging from sedans to luxury SUVs, with each major distributor offering an ever-expanding competitive selection. Models within this segment can range from economical, starting at approximately TT$230,000, to luxury, up to TT$1,200,000, depending on the make, size, and specifications. Battery efficiency in these vehicles is ever-evolving and improving, with the driving range increasing from an average of 300km to more than 500km.

Does T&T have adequate EV charging infrastructure?

With the purchase of Plug-in Electric Vehicles (PHEV), customers are provided with individual charging stations for domestic use. In addition, nine public charging stations are strategically located along the major highways and roads in Trinidad. Of course, there is always room for improvement; we hope to see the installation of more public charging stations throughout Trinidad and, eventually, in Tobago.

How soon can we expect to see hydrogen vehicles on the market?

Hydrogen technology in vehicles is relatively new; it is being further developed, tested and is currently focused on two major brands. Therefore, we estimate that hydrogen-powered vehicles will not surface in developing markets until 2025/2026.