My Thoughts on Technology and Jamaica: Why JUTC going Hybrid indicates removal of 60% import duty on Electric Vehicles

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Why JUTC going Hybrid indicates removal of 60% import duty on Electric Vehicles

“We are hoping to start a pilot project next year, using electric buses operated by the JUTC but, of course, that will be dependent on the availability of the funding,”

Minister of Transport and Mining Mike Henry commenting on the JUTC going hybrid by 2020

Resident of Portmore rejoice!

The JUTC (Jamaica Urban Transit Corporation) may soon be going Hybrid after the construction of the Portmore transportation hub.

So says Minister of Transport and Mining Mike Henry, who plans to start a pilot project for Hybrid buses in the next two (2) years as reported in the article “Henry looking at going hybrid way”, published Friday, December 22, 2017 By Balford Henry, The Jamaica Observer.

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Minister of Transport and Mining Mike Henry, who made this announcement back in December 2017, is aiming for an environmentally friendly public transport sector in two years. The introduction of Hybrid buses, which run partly on battery and partly on another fuel, is a part of that long term plan.

This may be CNG (Compressed Natural Gas), as the JUTC is already embarking on a project to power their fleet using this form of LNG (:Liquid Natural Gas) as noted in my blog article entitled “Why the JUTC is adopting LNG and CNG as PCJ need to emphasize Solar, Wind and Biofuel”.

In the process, Portmore will also be transitioning to Smart City Status as pointed out by Minister Mike Henry, quote: “All of this will relate to how soon we can develop the Portmore transportation centre, which will operate as the hub of Portmore as a smart city”.

So what are the benefits of transitioning the JUTC buses from Diesel fuel to CNG and then to Hybrid?

JUTC going Hybrid - Portmore Transportation Hub will facilitate Hybrid Vehicles

As I’d mentioned in a previous article on the JUTC going CNG, a gas based fuel burns cleaner, give better mileage and is more environmentally friendly. CNG is used to power vehicles, mostly buses and trucks. However, the infrastructure for LNG for cooling and compressing, shipping and regasifying into CNG can be extensive and expensive.

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Producing and transporting LNG is also very energy intensive albeit the fuel is cheaper than Diesel a pointed out by Minister of Transport and Mining Mike Henry, quote: “CNG is a cheaper and cleaner fuel than the 'heavy oil' the buses are now using, but there have been queries and we will have to do a pilot project”.

The Portmore transportation hub will be built with Fast chargers for the buses, possibly build by Tesla in collaboration with the JPS Co (Jamaica Public Service Company) as noted in my blog article entitled “JPSCo US$5 million Smart Grid and Tesla Motors Battery Storage Tech Fixes Low Power Periods”.    

However, a hybrid vehicle runs on a gasoline engine and electric motor. The Vehicles wheels and transmission are powered by the electric current from the Li-Ion batteries, with a gasoline powered generator turning on every now and then to recharge the batteries.

Generators are a more efficient in converting chemical energy in gasoline to electrical energy than a gasoline engine is at converting the same chemical energy to mechanical energy. So expect the JUTC buses to be practically zero emission, making them truly environmentally friendly.

Golden Dragons with CNG - An expensive but necessary test run for Electric Vehicles

About 5-7 “Golden Dragon” buses being built in China for the JUTC will arrive fitted with CNG facilitation for the pilot program in 2019. If all goes well, then all JUTC buses will be retrofitted to be CNG, with a potential Hybrid upgrade in 2020.

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To achieve this, the import duty on electric vehicles would have to be removed, facilitating the importation of Li-Ion Batteries or buses already pre-built with Hybrid technology in them.

This may happen as the government may allow Car importers the same latitude they give themselves; importation of CNG and Electric Vehicles by removing the 60% duty in a bid to reduce our importation of oil as predicted in my blog article entitled “JPS, USAID and How removing 60% import duty on Electric Vehicle will reduce Jamaica's Oil Bill”. 

Even more interestingly, the generators used in the Hybrid buses may actually end up being CNG Generators. Interesting times indeed for the JUTC as they go Hybrid in 2020, heralding the coming of Electric and CNG vehicles to Jamaica!

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