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Electric vehicle adoption rate in Costa Rica remains low

December 28, 2020

Costa Rica this year added 727 new electric vehicles for a total of 3,106 registered in the country, according to the Presidency. Some 330 of those were purchased by the government and assigned to public institutions, including to the Electricity Institute (ICE) and the Post Office.

The Presidency says Costa Rica is a regional leader in electric vehicles per capita. Still, the 3,106 figure is a fraction of the country’s vehicles; Costa Rica has Latin America’s highest vehicle density.

“It is important that this 2020, despite the context of the global pandemic, the acquisition and registration of electric vehicles remained,” said First Lady Claudia Dobles.

The 727 new electric vehicles in 2020 are a slight decrease compared to 2019, when the country added 731. However, it represents a significant increase compared to 2018 (424) and every year prior.

Costa Rica offers tax breaks to incentivize ownership of electric vehicles.

The country also has more than 100 electric car charging stations within its national territory, making the Central American country the first in the region with a nationwide charging network.

The website PlugShare, which identifies EV charging stations worldwide, lists at least 120 locations in Costa Rica — the majority clustered around the Greater Metropolitan Area (GAM), including San José.

Costa Rica EV Charging Map
A PlugShare screenshot shows EV charging stations across Costa Rica. Via PlugShare.

When the National Decarbonization Plan was inaugurated in 2018, modernizing the country’s transportation infrastructure was listed as a pillar of the initiative.

Electric vehicles would help Costa Rica rely more fully on green energy; the country has generated more than 98% of its power through renewable resources over the last five years.

In addition to electric vehicles, the National Decarbonization Plan also includes electric railway projects. An electric passenger train, which would be the backbone of a modern transportation system through the Greater Metropolitan Area, will soon reach the Legislative Assembly for debate, according to Dobles.

An electric freight train in Limón and the rebuilding of the Pacific railroad remain in feasibility stages.

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