Purchasing a car — whether it’s brand new or used — can be one of the biggest investments you’ll make. This type of purchase can sometimes feel overwhelming, leaving you to wonder where to start and who to see. And when it comes to considering a new type of technology, like an electric vehicle, it’s even more important to have the correct information at hand.
That’s why Blue Planet Foundation and the Sustainable Transportation Coalition of Hawai‘i (STCH) created a new online tool designed to make the connection between interested car buyers and local electric vehicle experts at various dealerships on O‘ahu, Kaua‘i, Maui, and Hawai‘i Island.
The “Find An EV Expert” tool can be found on HawaiiEVexperts.org, which links to STCH’s newly redesigned website. It’s an easy-to-use, interactive map where users can select an island or a specific car brand. From there, the tool will display participating dealerships with a list of sales associates who are Certified EV Experts — individuals who completed and passed the EV Expert Certification Program run by Blue Planet and STCH. The user can click further to see a profile of each certified EV expert, including the name, contact information, and years of experience.
“We want to make it easier to buy an electric vehicle. From the many EV ride-and-drive events we’ve conducted over the years, we’ve received feedback from customers who were interested in buying an EV but didn’t know who to consult with at the dealership,” said Lauren Reichelt, Blue Planet Foundation’s Clean Transportation Director and STCH Coordinator. “This tool provides a much-needed link between the customer and car dealerships. The customer can feel confident they’ll be working with a sales associate who is not only knowledgeable about the specific EV, but can also provide guidance and resources on local EV laws, benefits, and issues such as charging, tax incentives, and lifestyle fit.”
STCH has certified 70 EV Experts statewide, representing 23 local car dealerships that offer full battery and/or plug-in hybrid electric vehicles:
“We have a lot of people coming into our dealership to learn more about electric vehicles,” said Alissa Coker, technologist with Jaguar Honolulu. “They definitely rely on us to provide information to them.”
Added Tony Nissan’s electric vehicle specialist Kurt Speas, “The new ‘Find an EV Expert’ tool is actually good for the consumer because they can actually find someone who can answer their questions right away — what the ranges are, how many kilowatts it takes to charge the vehicles, how their solar integrates with the car itself.”
The EV Expert Certification Program is open to local car sales associates and consists of a half-day workshop and a 50-question examination. For more information, visit HawaiiEVexperts.org.
The latest data from the State Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism showed that Hawai‘i currently has 9,699 registered passenger electric vehicles statewide. From July 2018 to July 2019, the number of EV registrations increased by 29.4%, while the number of gasoline vehicle registrations only went up 0.9% in the same period.
“With more automakers committed to producing EVs and an increase in consumer interest, EVs are only going to gain in popularity,” added Reichelt. “We hope this tool will make the EV-buying experience more positive for both the customer and the dealership.”