State drives effort toward electric

June 28, 2021 - Local officials acknowledged the public’s hesitancy to transition to electric vehicles, but they’re hoping an acceleration to EV at the state level may provide the spark that ignites large-scale conversion.

During the eighth annual Maui-based Hawaii Energy Conference last week, a presentation by Ulupono Initiative provided an update on the state’s progress toward electrification of transportation amid a new mandate that Hawaii change 100 percent of its light-duty passenger vehicles to electric by 2030 and the rest of its light-duty fleet by 2035.

Gov. David Ige on Thursday signed that mandate, along with two other bills, into law. The three bills expand the state’s use of electric vehicles to help meet Hawaii’s clean energy goals.

Despite Hawaii’s ambitious energy goals, though, officials acknowledged during the energy conference presentation that there is public hesitancy to switch to electric. 

Some challenges include ensuring there are enough electric vehicle charging stations for people who can’t charge at home, upfront capital costs to invest in the vehicle and the human pattern toward being creatures of habit, they said.

State Department of Transportation Maui district engineer Robin Shishido said he experienced “range anxiety” when he drove his personal electric vehicle for the first time from his home to the summit of Haleakala National Park.

“I took our EV up to Haleakala and I think when I left my house, I had 180 miles of range,” Shishido said during the presentation. “I got up there. I ended up with like 75, so I got a little nervous, but all the way down with the regenerative braking, I think I ended up back at my house with 130. So, you know, net was only using 50 miles going all the way to the summit.”

He said it’s helped to know that many charging stations exist around the island.

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