Barbados has the capacity to produce its own line of electric buses and save valuable foreign exchange.
That is the view of Ralph Bizzy Williams and his business partner Wayne Clarke, after they unveiled an electric bus that was assembled on the island to members of the media today.
Following a successful test ride from the Licensing Authority in the Pine, St Michael to Bathsheba in St Joseph, both Williams and Clarke said the possibility of Barbados assembling electric buses was a very real one.
Williams, chairman of Williams Industries along with his Director of Special Projects David Staples financed the project, while Clarke and engineer Dan Johnson assembled the vehicle which will be used in Government’s Transport Augmentation Programme (TAP).
The project took 18 months to be completed.
“It has taken a long time to get it done and a lot of money… but it can be done, there is no question about it. I am absolutely 100 per cent confident that it can be done, but I would have to build a factory for them to be produced because it can’t be produced in the little workshops,” Williams said.
“It would have to be a long production line and we would have to train a lot of people to do the technology because it’s been a two-man job really. It can be done but whether David Staples and I have the will to do it now after the experience I had with this one is the big question now. I will have to give it some thought.”
However, Clarke explained that the initiative would have to be supported by Government.
He said the project had initially began as a joint venture with Government but because of the Barbados Economic Recovery and Transformation (BERT) programme, Government was unable to provide any financing.
Clarke revealed that while it cost between $800,000 to $900,000 to transform the old Transport Board bus to an electric vehicle, he projected it would take $500,000 to $600,000 for any future conversions.
“I think the project can go a long way if it receives some assistance from Government because at the end of the day unless we have the concessions…because part of a business is costs and once we are allowed to streamline our costs and we can scale that bus we can produce a lot of those buses,” he said.
“Once given the opportunity where we can have a production plant going where we can do this on a production line we can probably produce all of the buses because there are so many buses sitting down at the Transport Board just idle that can be refurbished and converted and save the country much needed foreign reserves.”
Clarke suggested that persons from the Samuel Jackman Prescod Institute could be given opportunities to work converting old buses to electric.