Barbados’ oldest car dealership is making the switch to renewables as it seeks to position itself for the future.
In fact, Courtesy Garage Ltd, has so far invested approximately one million dollars in photovoltaic systems, which has resulted in a massive reduction of about 80 per cent in the electricity bill of the Wildey, St Michael business.
In addition, the company announced on Thursday the introduction of the new 40-kilowatt lithium-ion polymer battery powered Nissan Leaf 2 to its offerings.
The 98-year-old company is also expected to launch the 2021 electric Hyundai Kona service utility vehicle by January next year, as it takes further steps to phase out diesel powered vehicles in Barbados.
Senior General Manager Nicholas Mackie made the announcement as he gave journalists a test drive of the new Nissan leaf 2 and a tour of the company’s new zero emission electric vehicle garage area.
He stressed that the move was in keeping with Government’s energy policy decision to make Barbados fossil fuel free by 2030.
“So it is very important for us to emphasise that Courtesy Garage is following Government’s policy of electrification,” he said.
Pointing out that Courtesy Garage currently controls about 22 per cent of the automobile market in Barbados, Mackie said the overall car dealership market had not escaped the wrath brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It significantly declined. It is down by about 45 per cent. But we still control a fairly large segment and we are hoping to grow that to 30 per cent in the new year,” he said.
However, he said the company continued to pay close attention to workplace health and safety, while investing heavily in new technology to help keep the company relevant and viable.
“I am happy to say that we have come out of our survival mode and we are now steadily moving into our recovery mode. So for us, I wouldn’t say the worse has passed, but we are certainly starting to come out of the woods now,” he said.
“We have done a lot on reducing expenses and making the operation leaner. Our managers work as teams across the region. So we cluster manage . . . Because of the technology, we are spread across the region, and we have done a lot of work to increase productivity and launch innovative products,” he added.
In relation to the company’s photovoltaic system, which was completed in 2019, Mackie said the company has since been saving roughly $25,000 on its approximately $32,000 per month electricity bill.
“We use about 80 per cent of the power we generate on the site now. So we have some extra capacity. And there are still many areas we can double or triple our power generating capacity,” he said, as he pointed to plans to install more photovoltaic systems.
He said: “So we are energy independent as a company, as the country move towards that direction. That is one of the reasons we are aligning ourselves with Government’s policy. We see this as the future”.
Turning his attention to the electric vehicle, the car dealer predicted that the local automotive industry would start to intensify switching from diesel powered vehicles to electric ones over the next three years as a wider variety becomes available.
He said: “there is going to be a tipping point then where it will be common-place where everybody has an electric car in the future. Not only electric cars but connected cars. So just like your smart phone the car will be just as smart and it will be connected to the dealership and the apps to your phone”.
Mackie said gone were the days of people not having confidence in electric vehicles, pointing out that they were now able to drive longer distances without requiring a charge.
He also pointed to longer lasting battery life while forecasting that special batteries could be on the horizon for the tropical climate that would last even longer.
The price range for the Nissan Leaf 2 is between $90,000 to $100,000, and the Hyundai Kona will range from $135, 000 to $155,000.
Company officials said there was ongoing training of staff in the maintenance of the electric vehicle technology. (MM)