Earlier this month, the Maui Electric Vehicle Alliance (Maui EVA) was launched at the Grand Wailea via a meeting with officials from the University of Hawaii Maui College, Hawaii State Energy Office, Honolulu Clean Cities and 30 other Hawaii government, business and organization partners. Their plan is to create and implement a Maui County wide plan for the infrastructure and adoption of electric vehicles.
“We estimate that 15 to 20 percent of the vehicles used on Maui are rental cars driven by visitors, a much higher density than in other cities or counties of comparable size elsewhere,” said Susan Wyche, UHMC special project coordinator. “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.”
Maui EVA has a $300,000 grant from the US Department of Energy to prepare Maui for widespread adoption of electronic vehicles. The strategy is to get local companies, hotels and state parks that serve the visitor industry to partner with Maui EVA and collectively create the infrastructure needed.
Along with car rental companies, auto dealers understand the benefit of creating charging stations as the demand for EVs increases. October saw the arrival of the first Chevy Volt on Maui at Jim Falk Motors. They’ve also sold several Nissan Leafs.
“We’ve sold close to 35 EVs this year, and the demand is increasing every month,” said Andy Stehl, sales consultant for Jim Falk Maui Motors. “We’ve heard from customers that the lack of charging stations really influences their decision to choose an EV. More charging stations would definitely expand the market.”
To prepare the workforce, UHMC will train auto repair technicians as well as electricians, contractors, engineers and managers with the technical skills they need through the Sustainable Construction, Trade Apprenticeship, Engineering Technology and Sustainable Science Management programs and degrees.
“Electric cars are clean, quiet and dependable,” said Mayor Alan Arakawa, who attended both Maui EVA and Japan-U.S. Smart Grid Project meetings. “Maui has the opportunity to show the world the full benefits of both EVs and smart grid technologies operating in tandem. Maui is proud to serve as the testing ground for both technologies.”