Blue Planet Foundation certifies 41 sales associates as EV experts across Hawaii

This story appeared in the Pacific Business News on Tuesday, December 12, 2018

Honolulu-based nonprofit organization Blue Planet Foundation has certified 41 automobile sales associates across Hawaii as electric vehicle experts.

To receive the certification, sales associates had to complete the Electric Vehicle Expert Certification Program. The program, an initiative of Blue Planet Foundation and the Sustainable Transportation Coalition of Hawaii, is supported by a grant from the Ulupono Donor-Advised Fund at the Hawaii Community Foundation.

“The EV Expert Certification Program equips dealership sales associates with the knowledge and skills they need to be successful in a rapidly evolving EV marketplace,” Lauren Reichelt, Clean Transportation Lead at Blue Planet Foundation and STCH Coordinator, said in a statement. “Those interested in buying or leasing an electric vehicle can now access this growing network of EV Experts and be confident that they will have the best possible customer experience at the dealership.”

The program, which launched in July, has reached 12 automobile dealerships on Oahu, Maui and the Big Island. The certification program aims to the enhance the knowledge of sales associates in regard to EV technologies, infrastructure, incentives and benefits in Hawaii, the nonprofit organization stated.

There are currently 8,219 EVs on Hawaii's roads, according to the latest state data. The figure represents less than 1 percent of all passenger vehicles in the state. However, the number of EVs increased by 24 percent between November 2017 and November 2018.

“With our limited roadways, expensive gas prices and high dependency on imported fossil fuels for ground transportation, it is ideal to own and drive an electric vehicle in the islands,” Greg Gaug, vice president of investments for Ulupono Initiative, said.

Last year, Hawaii's counties agreed to eliminate fossil fuels from ground transportation by 2045, aligning it with the state's goal of achieving 100 percent renewable energy by the same year.

“My favorite thing about the EV expert program is the sharing of information,” Vincent Soberano, sales associate at Tony Nissan in Waipahu, said.

Blue Planet Foundation said it will continue to expand the certification program to Kauai in 2019 and increase the number of participating dealerships representatives throughout the state.