A Pacific island paradise – the perfect place for EVs

The Hawaiian island of Maui took a big step into the electric-powered future this month with the launch of the Maui Electric Vehicle Alliance. 

 

EVs are an easy sell to people living on an island, gas prices tend to be high and driving distances short. The Hawaiian island of Maui took a big step into the electric-powered future this month with the launch of the Maui Electric Vehicle Alliance. More than 30 businesses, government agencies and NGOs are involved, and each has a part to play in building an EV infrastructure and jump-starting EV adoption.

Maui Electric Company is working to integrate more clean energy and build a smarter electrical grid. University of Hawaii Maui College (UHMC) has degree programs to train auto repair technicians, electricians, engineers and managers with the latest EV-related skills. The US Department of Energy did their bit with a $300,000 grant. The tourist industry is also a key partner.

“We estimate that 15-20% of the vehicles used on Maui are rental cars driven by visitors,” said Susan Wyche of UHMC. “With such short driving distances, EVs are the perfect choice for visitors coming to enjoy our island. But to give them that option, we need the support of rental car companies, as well as public charging stations at hotels, state parks, and other recreational sites. Once an island-wide infrastructure is in place, residents will be able to use those charging stations, and rental car companies, like Enterprise and Hertz, will be able to sell their EV fleet to the local Maui market instead of shipping them elsewhere.”

Local car dealer Jim Falk Maui Motors is happy to plug into the scene. “We’ve sold close to 35 EVs this year, and the demand is increasing every month. More charging stations would definitely expand the market.”

“The green workforce [in Hawaii] is expected to grow by more than 25% next year,” said Mark Glick of Hawaii’s State Energy Office. “We’re among the top three in the nation for green job growth and Maui is leading the way with the most green jobs in the state.  More EVs on the road will mean less use of imported oil, a great contribution to the State’s 70% clean energy goal.”

 

Image: MrTavis