Costa Rica’s “Marriage” to Electric Cars Affects Use of Other New Technologies that also Reduce Pollution

    Director of Aivema talks about trends in vehicle purchases

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    Advanced technology in combustion engines to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. Hybrid vehicles that can be powered by fossil fuels, electricity and other fuels such as ethanol at the same time.

    These options that also reduce the polluting emissions that the automotive sector deposits in the air could be losing the potential that they really have due to the “marriage” that Costa Rica has with the technology of electric vehicles.

    But it also goes against the route that large car manufacturers such as BMW, Mercedes Benz and Toyota have recently decided to follow.Due to a drop in the fulfillment of their goals of positioning electric cars, they are returning to hybridization, that is, to promote a fleet that accepts several energy alternatives.

    “This is the new trend that we are again trying to position in Costa Rica because the authorities and especially the government authorities must respect the principle of technological neutrality,” said the executive director o the Association of Importers of Vehicles and Machinery (Aivema), Liliana Aguilar Rojas.

    2024: historic year for imports

    Aguilar said that Aivema had a goal to surpass: that of 2016 when some 50,000 vehicle units were brought into the country. That goal has already been reached this 2024 and the year is expected to end with about 75,000 if projections are maintained.The recent edition of ExpoMóvil, the largest vehicle sales fair in the country, showed that cars that use fossil fuels continue to be the favorites.

    Fossil fuel vehicles accounted for 86% of closed sales versus 12% of electric and 2% of hybrids. Although electric vehicles are still a low percentage, Aguilar recognizes that there is a year-on-year rebound.

    However, she does not believe that this growth will be sustained when the incentives that were approved in 2018 for electric transportation begin to be eliminated (gradually).

    Aguilar’s recommendations

    The real change will come to the country when, for example, the environmental regulations dating from the 1990s, which regulate the allowable amount of CO2 that a vehicle can emit, are updated, says Aguilar.

    From his point of view, it is also important for Costa Rica to stop being a “junkyard”, since all types of vehicles are allowed to be imported regardless of whether they have been written off in another country or if they have been in circulation for up to 15 years.

    In fact, Aguilar said that Aivema will take the Ministry of Public Works and Transport (MOPT) to court for apparently not applying the minimum condition reviews to used Korean vehicles brought into the country. The process is being pursued for omissive conduct.

    As a result of this deregulation and lack of vigilance, denounces the director of Aivema, cars are being brought into the country that have already been discarded in other latitudes. They are bought in minimal amounts and resold in Costa Rica at much higher prices.

    “Costa Ricans for not verifying, for not caring, may be riding in one of these units. This includes used vehicles, whether electric or not, and other old vehicles circulating in the country”, he commented.

    An unattainable goal

    Goals far from reality and a strategy led by people who did not know about the subject resulted in a Decarbonization Plan that remained on paper, according to Aguilar.

    During the interview she said that since this plan was built in the Alvarado Quesada administration Aivema warned that the goals were unrealistic, mainly those related to the change that should occur in the vehicle fleet.

    The National Decarbonization Plan, which is the State’s route to stop depending on fuels for the benefit of the environment and sustainability, establishes that by 2035 30% of the fleet of light vehicles -private and institutional- will be electric. This percentage will increase to 90% by 2050.

    According to data from the National Insurance Institute (INS), 1,745,625 circulation rights were issued by 2024. This can be interpreted as the number of cars authorized to drive on the country’s streets. If 2023 closed with approximately 11,000 units, this proportion does not reach 1%.”We indicated to them that these were not real figures. In fact, today we are very far from meeting those goals”, she commented.

    When laws or projects are drafted, we have to take into account the realities and the options we have with manufacturers to release certain types of units to the country. We can’t just make imaginary figures,” she added.

    Although these goals are not achieved, the number of electric vehicles in Costa Rica is growing since 2018, when the incentives for the importation of this technology began to apply.

    Resonance Costa Rica
    At Resonance, we aspire to live in harmony with the natural world as a reflection of our gratitude for life. Visit and subscribe at Resonance Costa Rica Youtube Channel

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