As we've been reporting, the price of fuel continues to be unstable on
the international market, but BEL is suggesting that Belizean motorists
should start to consider transitioning to electric vehicles.
They launched a major program this morning at the Biltmore Plaza Hotel,
and 7News was there. Daniel Ortiz reports:
With increasing public disquiet about soaring gas prices, Belize
Electricity Limited thinks that right now is the perfect time to present
motorists with a new option to cover their transportation needs.
That's why they're rolling out the Pilot Project for their National
Electric Vehicle Charging Ecosystem.
Sean Fuller - GM, Commercial and Retail Services, BEL
"Today, we're delivering on the first product of our efforts, launching
the first of Belize's National EV Charging Ecosystem, consisting of
level 2 and level 3 charging stations; back-office systems, including a
web portal and mobile app for customers, and integrating with banks for
credit and debit card purchases. This is why we say it is more about
building an EV Charging Station infrastructure. We're creating a brand
new ecosystem, one that will transform and transition our country to a
more environmentally-friendly, cheaper, and safer means of
transportation in Belize."
Similar to the fuel pumps at a gas station, these pieces of equipment can
interface directly with electric vehicles. An EV owner simply brings his
vehicle near to the equipment BEL has branded "ChargeNgo". As the name
suggests, the owner then connects to the equipment, similar to the way they
would plug in a cellular phone to a wired charger. The vehicle's battery
takes a certain amount of time to charge, depending on which specific
equipment is being used.
And while most electric vehicle owners would charge at home at night,
there is a need for public charging stations to combat what is known as
â€˜range anxiety'. You don't want to hit the road going to Dangriga and
realize, I might run out of juice. And so, we're installing in this
first phase of the pilot 12 charging stations in Orange Walk, San
Ignacio, Belmopan, Belize City, Dangriga - in this first phase. But,
the long-term plan, 3 to 5-year-plan is that we will have public
charging stations in every single corner of this country, in all
hotels, gas stations, parking lots, groceries, public parks. We are
working with the Belize City Council and the San Ignacio and Orange
Walk Town Councils to install charging stations in their
municipalities. So, in the event, you have to run to Dangriga or
Hopkins, and you forget to charge at home, you would run, charge in
Dangriga. And you could fully charge your vehicle within an hour
because we'll have a level 3 charger, run to Hopkins and come all the
way back to Belize City without having to charge again. So, these
charging stations will be deployed strategically throughout the entire
country of Belize."
The new ecosystem even has multiple methods of payment, since the electric
vehicle is storing electricity to power the engine.
"We're building an ecosystem. It's not just about the charging station.
That's the level 3 charger over there, and behind me, you see the level
2 charger. So, a part of the ecosystem includes a mobile app that
you'll be able to download for free, register with BEL for free, and
there will be 4 options. The first option, whichever your preference,
will be that you would tie your electric vehicle mobile app account
with your BEL electricity account, and the charging would be seamless.
You will simply get an additional charge or line item on your
electricity bill for the charging costs associated with charging your
electric vehicle. For tourism guests or for anyone else who might not
have an electricity account, there's an option on the app to tie a
debit card or a credit card to that application so that when you use
the app to initiate the charge at the charging station, your debit or
credit card will automatically be billed, with the interface that we're
building between the application and the local banking system. And
then, then the 4th option that I just heard of yesterday, was sort of a
pre-paid option. You could actually add credit to the app, to the
Of course, this system will only be successful if Belizeans start to
embrace electric vehicles in a popular and mainstream way. And that's why
BEL has invited local car dealerships to partner with them as stakeholders
in this new opportunity.
Chad Dietrich - Rep., Caribbean Motors
"The late Steve Jobs once said, 'Innovation is the ability to see
change as an opportunity, not a threat.' BEL, we salute you for seeing
this change as an opportunity, for making this investment to foster an
environment where the sustainable transport future in Belize can
Leroy Gentle - Rep., King Motors
"Electric Vehicles have the potential to usher Belize to a green path
that everybody can continue pointing at us as some of the best pushers
in the impacts we create globally, for example in tourism."
Ted Tejada - Manager, Biltmore Plaza Hotel
"I remember 2 years ago, Sean had approached me and said, 'What about a
charging station at the Biltmore?' I was like, 'Sean, how many electric
cars do we have in Belize? He said, 'None, but it's coming.' He didn't
know that I already believed in that. He didn't have to sell me on
that. We were the first hotel to install solar water heaters here at
the Biltmore. We believed that we needed to contribute to Mother Earth
by helping to protect what the emission of these cars are doing. Last
week, I was in Canada, and I was amazed that 40% of every vehicle that
I got in was electric."
"The challenge has been the availability of EV models that appeal to
our market here in Belize, and I'm excited to say that our auto
manufacturers now have market-ready models ranging from full-sized city
buses to delivery and utility trucks, passenger and delivery vans, and
all sizes of cars and SUVs, like this beautiful one you see behind me."
"We have utility trucks, trucks that have the capacity of 2 and a half
tonnes. We know when it comes to the moving of loads and moving of
goods across this country, we know these are the types of vehicles
we're using: personal vehicles, pickup trucks, units are that are key
to our daily usage every day. We have identified those units We know
those units are perfect. But more than that, heading toward that green
future, for Belize, and with the savings and incentives that it
provides for us is absolutely the way to go."
One Belizean motorist who has fully embraced the electric vehicle lifestyle
is Ruth Esquivel. She insists that it is the best decision she made:
Ruth Esquivel - EV Owner
"Once I got it here, other benefits started rolling in. So, in terms of
cost, my cost to run an EV went down 80%. And this is back gas was 9
dollars a gallon, not 12-something - I don't even know what you guys
pay now in gas. But beyond just the gas cost, just in terms of
maintenance, it is a Nissan, and so, any Nissan parts when I need air
filters, brake pads, any of those kinds of things. It's not special
order. It's the same that other vehicles run. But instead of servicing
my vehicle every 3 or 4 months like I used to do, I now service it
every 9 or 10 months. It is very quiet. There's no such thing as like
oil change, and that sort of thing. So, under my hood looks cleaner
than the bottoms of some of your feet. My car is really silent. So, I
could be a ninja and sneak up on people. So, beyond just the initial
reasons why I brought in my vehicle, I would never go back to a gas
vehicle after the experience that I've had with my EV."
And if you think this is all marketing hype to get you to spend your
hard-earned savings on a substandard product, the technical people from BEL
are challenging you to do your research before writing it off.
"I just did a demo with the Mayor and the Deputy Mayor of Belize City
with an application we have on our website. If you go to the website,
there's an application for you to calculate what the cost savings would
be to convert from a gas to an electric vehicle. It asks for 3 things,
the number of miles you run in a week, the current fuel price, which is
about 13 something dollars per gallon, and your fuel efficiency. And
the savings shown for one year in that example that I just gave to the
Mayor and Deputy Mayor, was 6,800 dollars per year, only on the cost of
fuel. On top of that, there's a cost-saving as it relates to the
maintenance of these vehicles. So, you can see anywhere from 7 to 8
thousand per year savings. That pays for the vehicle automatically in
the first 1 or 2 years."