Did You Know That 100% Electric Cars Are Exempted From Customs & Consumption Tax in Montserrat?

The Ministry of Communications, Works, Labour and Energy (MCWLE) recently published infographics explaining why electric and hybrid vehicles are more efficient than vehicles with conventional internal combustion engines, so we tracked down Mr. Kenrick Burke (Director of Energy from the Ministry of Communication, Works, Labour & Energy) for an in depth interview.


Did you know that Montserratians are able to import electric and hybrid vehicles under a new government policy, without any customs and consumption charges (in some instances)?

Did you also know that Hybrid vehicles combine the advantages of ICE and Electric motors to deliver improved efficiency and performance?

In August 2019, the Government of Montserrat announced its new National Energy Policy, and under S.R.O. 29 of 2019 it has also offered the citizens of Montserrat the following exemptions on the landing costs of EVs and Hybrid vehicles:

  1. Customs Duties (20%) on the importation of a plug-in hybrid vehicle.
  2. Consumption Tax (15%) on the importation of a hybrid vehicle other than a plug-in hybrid vehicle
  3. Both Customs Duties (20%) and Consumption Tax (15%) on:
    1. 100% electric vehicles 
    2. (EV) Charging stations 
    3. Replacement batteries and charging stations

The Ministry of Communications, Works, Labour and Energy (MCWLE) recently published infographics explaining why electric and hybrid vehicles are more efficient than vehicles with conventional internal combustion engines, so we tracked down Mr. Kenrick Burke (Director of Energy from the Ministry of Communication, Works, Labour & Energy) for an in depth interview. Check out the full interview below and let’s discuss your queries and concerns in the comments.

Interview With Kenrick Burke – Director of Energy

  1. What is your name and your role at the Ministry of Communication, Works, Labour and Energy?

    My name is Kenrick Burke, I am the Director of Energy at the Ministry of Communication, Works, Labour and Energy in Montserrat.
  1. Is the electric car part of a larger MCWLE project or programme?

In 2019, the transportation sector accounted for 51% of fossil fuel imported into the island, excluding the ferry; this figure stands at 44%. Hence, in 2019 ground transportation accounted for 44% of fossil fuel imported into the island. Therefore, efforts are being made to reduce the energy consumption attributed to transportation. 

  1. What was the purpose behind purchasing the electric car?

The importation of this electric car was aimed at demonstrating to the general public the viability of the technology. A pilot project which looked at driver’s acceptability and comparative energy efficiency was conducted. The results of the pilot study indicated that it cost 38% less to operate an electric car when compared to an Internal Combustion Vehicle (ICV).

  1. Is the project funded by MCWLE or is it externally funded?

The project was funded by the European Union as part of EDF11.

  1. How much energy do we currently consume in Montserrat?

In 2019, 311 petajoules or 50, 834 barrels of oil equivalent of fossil fuel was consumed in Montserrat. Transportation accounted for 51% of the consumption, while electricity generation and LPG accounted for 45% and 4% respectively.  

  1. What is the difference between an electric car and a hybrid car?

A hybrid car features a small fuel-efficient gas engine combined with an electric motor that assists the engine when accelerating. The electric motor is powered by batteries that recharge automatically depending on the driving condition. There are two types of hybrid, regular and electric plugin.

A fully electric vehicle does not have an engine, so propulsion is achieved via an electric motor fueled by batteries.

  1. How long does an electric car last compared to a regular car?

With proper maintenance and upkeep, an electric car can last as long as a regular car.

  1. Have they been around long enough for you to measure that?

The whole concept of electric cars dates back to the 18th century. The first mass produced electric car was the Toyota Prius hybrid/electric which was released in 1997. 

However, the growth of fully electric vehicles started in 2010 with the introduction of Chevy Volt, Nissan Leaf and Tesla luxury electric sports cars.

  1. Cars in Montserrat are a lot older than in most places, so why should someone still go out and purchase an electric car?

Energy independence is critical for the development of small island states such as Montserrat. The island does not possess any fossil fuel reserves; hence we will always be dependent on other countries for this source of energy. Fortunately, the island possesses an abundance of indigenous renewable energy resources. The most viable way of harnessing these resources is through electricity generation. 

With electricity generated from Montserrat’s indigenous energy resources and the widespread use of electrical vehicles, we would be able to significantly reduce our dependence on fossil fuel. Hence your decision to purchase an electric car goes a long way in helping us to make this a reality.

Electric cars are more cost and energy efficient than an ICV. Due to the tax exemption, the cost of importing an electric vehicle is about the same or in some instances less than the cost of importing anInternal Combustion Vehicle.

Additionally, an electric car can be used to provide electricity to your home during a power outage.

  1. How long does an electric car take to charge?

Using a fast charge port, it will take roughly one hour to charge an electric car from 20%-100%, via trickle charge it would take roughly 7.5 hours from 0% to 100%.  With trickle charging the car can be plugged into a 220v socket similar to that which is used for washing machines.

  1. Can you purchase your own personal charging station?

Home charging stations are readily available. As indicated earlier, you do not necessarily need to purchase a home charging station to charge your vehicle, you can trickle charge it via a 220 socket.

  1.  Why don’t electric cars have solar panels?

The available surface area would not be sufficient to supply all of the required energy to power the vehicle. However, it will be able to augment the energy supply to the vehicle. This has not been done as yet but I am confident that manufacturers are researching methods of incorporating such a setup.

  1. How much electricity does an electric car use?

The electric car is equipped with a 40kWh battery, accounting for inefficiency in the charging process; it would probably require 45kWh to fully charge the electric car. In a dollar value, that’s less than $50 for a full charge. With a full charge (brand new Nissan leaf) you are able to cover a distance of 168 miles or 269km.

  1. Will it run up my electricity bill?

There would be an increase in your electricity bill but this increase would not be greater than the cost you currently pay on a monthly basis to fuel an ICV.

  1. Will the government’s charging station be available for public use?

At this stage, it’s not available, however as the technology penetrates the market the possibility may arise for a private entity to offer paid charging stations to the public.

  1. Can electric vehicles self-charge?

    The vehicle is capable of self-charging viable regenerative braking which recharges the batteries when the braking system is activated. Additionally, the vehicle will self-charge when the vehicle is descending an incline.
  2. Does an electric car eventually have battery failure like a mobile phone device does?

Similar to cell phones the battery deforms as the number of charge and discharge cycles increase. The batteries are projected to last between 10-15 years, however it is anticipated the timeline would be extended for our region since the average annual distance travelled would typically be less than that of a developed country.

  1. Where will those batteries end up?

These batteries can also have second life as storage for solar systems. Additionally, some car manufacturers offer battery buy back services through third party organisations. 

  1. How far can you really go in an electric vehicle?

The range (driving distance on a full charge) for the Leaf 2019 model is 168 miles while the range for 2018 Toyota Rav 4 is 398 miles.

  1. Is it comparable mile for mile to a petrol or hybrid vehicle?

Fossil fuel vehicles have a longer driving range than electric vehicles.

  1. How fast can an electric car go?

    From zero to 100 kmh/62 MPG in 7.9 sec while 1.5L Toyota Vitz RS takes 8.5 sec, Nissan Altima 7.2 sec.
  2. Who makes electric cars?

The top manufacturers of electric cars are Nissan, Tesla, Chevrolet and BMW.

  1. What is the make and model of your ministry’s electric car? 

2019 Nissan leaf (110 kW/147)

  1. Why did you choose that particular model? 

It is the most cost effective electric car on the market with a proven track record dating back to 2010.

  1. How much did the car cost? 

The starting price is around US$32k.

  1. What is the average price of an electric car? 

The average is between US$30- 40k for a brand new car. You can purchase a used electric car for as low as US$4,000. When purchasing used electric cars, ensure the State of Health (SoH) of the battery is greater than 80%.

  1. Are electric cars available in both manual and automatic? 

They are typically automatic.

  1. Have they started to make electric family cars or work vehicles suitable for workmen?

 EVs are available in Cars, SUVs and Bus but no factory manufactured pickup/work vehicle are available as yet. Ford is scheduled to release an Electric F150 in 2021.

  1. Does the government of Montserrat plan to update its fleet of vehicles to include electric or hybrid vehicles?

The energy unit will be conducting analysis to inform future procurement of government vehicles which may lead to the change out of the government fleet to electric vehicles where possible.

  1. Is the government going to provide any importation and tax concessions to member of the public who wish to invest in an electric car?

Via SR&O 29 of 2019, tax exemptions are available for fully electric vehicles (duty- 20% and consumption tax– 15%), plug-in hybrids (Duty – 20%) and regular hybrids (Consumption tax 15%).

  1. How is electricity generated here in Montserrat and how will the overall emissions of the car and the power station impact the environment?

Most of the electricity generated on the island is via diesel generators. Provided that the electricity is generated from a green source of energy the car can be considered zero emission.

  1. Do Electric Cars Emit Electromagnetic Radiation?

    Research shows electromagnetic radiation of less than one micro tesla (µT) has been observed in electric cars which is significantly lower than IEEE’s recommended levels. However, it is higher than the levels that you are exposed to in your home.
  1. What is the next phase of this project, once you have gathered the necessary data and research?

Share the information as a publication with the public and inform a decision on a way forward with the government fleet. Continued public sensitization.

  1. What does the perfect energy efficient Montserrat look like to you?

A low energy intensity economy capable of generating increased GDP with minimal energy expenditure. The energy intensity for the island is above 5,000 btu/US$ while the rest of the region is around 3,000 btu/US$. Greater energy conservation and improved the efficiency of equipment used on the island through energy awareness and the implementation of energy standards. 

  1. Does your team have any other projects in the pipeline that the public should be aware of or look forward to?

750 kW PV project which sees the implementation of 750 kWp solar PV and 1MWh battery.

  1. Where can the public go to find out more information about your ministry and also test driving the car?

You can also check out our live interview with the Director of Energy HERE.

Photo Credit: D.S. Media and the MCWLE


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