Costa Rica is considered a pioneer when it comes to the encouraging green energy and fighting the current global climate crisis and has been since the deforestation ban in 1996. Currently, nearly 100% of the electricity in Costa Rica is generated from renewable sources, and Costa Rica has recently embarked on an enormous decarbonization plan.
It’s pretty clear that Costa Rica is taking this whole climate change thing seriously and are making a concerted effort in every way they can. With that in mind, what is Costa Rica’s stance on electric vehicles?
The History of the Electric Car
Electric cars are actually older than you’d think, with the design being first invented between 1828 and 1839. The first practical electric cars were built as long ago as 1881. Electric cars weren’t just a novelty either but were considered more comfortable and easier to drive than their gas-guzzling alternatives. Eventually, however, the invention of the internal-combustion engine made it so that the cheaper gas/diesel-powered cars became a more viable and popular option.
The modern electric car was first developed in 1959, but it lingered in obscurity for a long time. In the 1990s, some commercial electric cars were developed, but not sold. Eventually, Tesla Motors developed the Tesla Roadster and released it to the market in 2008.
From here, more and more companies developed and released their own electric vehicles. During the 2010’s and the 2020’s, governments around the world have started to actively support electric cars over their fossil-fueled alternatives. Electric cars are emerging from the obscure into the mainstream.
How Do Electric Cars Work?
Electric cars, as the name suggests, use electricity as fuel rather than the more common fossil fuels. Modern electric cars are powered by a lithium-ion battery, which are continually being improved so that they can last for longer. Currently, the longest range of a single charge is 800km.
This battery has to be charged up by specially designed charging stations. People who own electric cars will use a home charging station which is installed outside their homes. However, you can also charge your car on the go with public charging stations. These are faster than home charging stations but take longer than ordinary gas stations.
Why Are Electric Cars Important for Costa Rica?
Let’s look at statistics for a moment. Road vehicles are responsible for almost 75% of global greenhouse gas emissions that come from transport. A typical internal combustion engine will spew out carbon dioxide and soot, as well as some other harmful gases.
These gases aren’t good for nearby humans, animals, or the environment. The soot and other particulates can irritate the lungs and even cause cardiovascular levels. The build-up of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, as well as the other gases, enormously add to climate change.
The long and short of it is that fossil-fueled vehicles are terrible for the environment. Also, cars aren’t going away. More cars are being put on the roads every year. The logical solution is to make those cars less harmful to the environment, which is where electric cars come into the equation.
Electric cars have no emissions, as the engine is powered by batteries rather than burning fuels. Admittedly, this doesn’t mean that electric cars always reach zero lifecycle emissions, as the electricity used to charge them doesn’t always come from carbon-free sources. However, because the electricity generated in Costa Rica is almost all derived from renewable sources. This means that electric cars that run in Costa Rica contribute much less to greenhouse gas emissions.
Electric cars aren’t just good for the environment, they can be good for your bank account as well. The electricity used to run these vehicles is much cheaper than gas or diesel, meaning that you save a lot of money when refueling. Not only that, many countries tax fossil-fueled vehicles, but not electric cars.
It’s also usually easier to drive most electric cars, and cheaper to maintain them. They have a simpler design which breaks down less often and don’t require oil changes or other ordinary maintenance checks.
Can I Use Electric Cars in Costa Rica?
You can absolutely use electric cars in Costa Rica. Remember, Costa Rica has always prioritized green energy, and electric cars are a huge step in the right direction. As of 2020, Costa Rica has been proud to announce a nationwide electric vehicle charging grid, making it the first country in the region to achieve this.
A nationwide electric charging grid means that you can travel anywhere in Costa Rica in an electric vehicle, without fears of running out of juice. There are over 140 places to charge your electric car in Costa Rica, and the number is only likely to rise. Most of these charging stations can be found in the more urban areas of Costa Rica, but you aren’t confined to these areas by any means.
The Costa Rican Electricity Institute and Correos de Costa Rica use fleets of electric vehicles to get around. The Costa Rican government is encouraging more people to use electric vehicles, offering tax breaks, zero import duties, and perks like free parking for owners and suppliers. By March 2021, almost 3500 electric vehicles were sold in Costa Rica.
So, you aren’t just able to drive your electric car in Costa Rica, you’re encouraged to.
The Future for Electric Cars in Costa Rica
As I mentioned before, Costa Rica is currently engaging in a National Decarbonization Plan, which aims to make Costa Rica one of the first decarbonized countries in the world. This plan stretches to 2050, but changes were implemented as soon as the plan was set into motion in 2019.
Electric vehicles are a huge part of this plan, so it makes sense that Costa Rica will only become more electric car-friendly in the near future. As well as encouraging personal use of electric vehicles, Costa Rica is exploring possibilities for electric public transportation.
One exciting plan is the Limon Electric Freight Train Project, which aims to modernize stretches of rail and create an electric rail system. This is just one of the examples of Costa Rica’s expansion and modernization of the railway lines.
It looks like the future is electric in Costa Rica.