It’s never been a smooth green revolution on Bermuda’s roads, but the raw evidence shows clear progress is being made.
The total number of licensed electric vehicles on the island climbed by more than 50 per cent in the past 12 months – from 607 to 951 – despite continued frustration over size restrictions that have hampered dealers’ efforts to meet demand.
Private electric cars and motorcycles saw the biggest increase from 2022, according to figures from the Ministry of Transport.
Electric cars jumped from 298 to 438; electric motorcycles went from 17 to 73; and auxiliary bikes from 35 to 109. Rental mini-cars climbed from 186 to 207; trucks from 58 to 79; and the Bermuda Government enlarged its electric fleet from 10 to 29.
Car dealers, however, have argued those statistics could be much more impressive.
In recent years, the Bermuda Automobile Dealers Association has lobbied the Government to increase the minimum size for electric vehicles by a few inches, which it says would allow many more suitable electric vehicles into the island.
The Ministry of Transport has said it is considering the move as part of its Zero Emission Policy.
Glen Smith, managing director at Auto Solutions, said amending the regulations would allow his firm to bring in an at least three extra models.
“Bermuda is the only country in the world that has size restrictions. We totally, totally get that. However, these companies are not building cars for small areas,” Mr Smith said.
Operations manager Harry Andrews added: “This process is very layered. We are cautiously optimistic that the legislation will change. We also have to build a case to the manufacturer as to why we want that car.
“Once we get that green light, we can start dealing with the manufacturers with regards to importing.”
Mr Andrews said demand remains high.
“We get it daily, people inquiring about what we have coming and what’s available now,” he said.
“Interest is increasing as people educate themselves and as we try to educate the public. Some people are willing to wait. Some have been waiting a good ten months for the Kona.”
Mr Smith said the environment is only one factor behind demand.
“The other part of it is the cost,” he said. “If you’ve got an electric car, you don’t need to come see us every six months to get the oil changed. It’s less expensive to fill up your car at your home than it is at the gas pump.”
A Ministry of Transport spokeswoman said: “At present, the electric vehicle battery size determines the vehicle size which has caused electric vehicles to generally be larger than internal combustion engine vehicles.
“Therefore, consideration is being given to the increase in vehicle size to ensure there are sufficient options on island for purchase.
“The Ministry will continue to meet with local dealers for their input in the development of Bermuda’s Zero Emission Policy.”
Electric car and bike options are available at dealerships across the island.
The industry has also proved a good source of business for entrepreneurs such as Alex Marshall, whose Whip Ride Share firm allows people to pick and drop off small-wheeled, electrically assisted scooters from designated locations.
Mr Marshall said the scooters are popular with locals and tourists.
“Everybody loves that it’s environmentally friendly but it also helps people avoid traffic, and there is a fun factor,” he said.
“People find they’re a great way to see the island without needing the bus or ferry.”