Costa Rica is considered a pioneer when it comes to encouraging green energy and tackling the current global climate crisis since the deforestation ban in 1996. Currently, nearly 100% of the world he electricity in Costa Rica is produced from renewable sources, and Costa Rica has recently embarked on a major decarbonization plan.
It’s pretty clear that Costa Rica takes this whole climate change business seriously and is making a concerted effort in any way it can. With that in mind, what is Costa Rica’s position on electric vehicles?
The history of the electric car
Electric cars are actually older than you might think, with the design first being invented between 1828 and 1839. The first practical electric cars were built as early as 1881. Electric cars were not just a novelty no more, but were considered more comfortable and easier to drive than their gas-guzzling alternatives. Eventually, however, the invention of the internal combustion engine made cheaper gasoline / diesel cars a more viable and popular option.
The modern electric car was first developed in 1959, but it remained in the dark for a long time. In the 1990s, some commercial electric cars were developed, but not sold. Eventually, Tesla Motors developed the Tesla Roadster and launched it on the market in 2008.
From there, more and more companies have developed and marketed their own electric vehicles. During the 2010s and 2020s, governments around the world began to actively support electric cars over their fossil fuel alternatives. Electric cars are emerging from obscurity to enter the general public.
How do electric cars work?
Electric cars, as the name suggests, use electricity for fuel rather than the more common fossil fuels. Modern electric cars are powered by a lithium-ion battery, which is continuously improved to last longer. Currently, the longest range from a single charge is 800 km.
This battery must be recharged by specially designed charging stations. Electric car owners will use a home charging station installed outside their home. However, you can also charge your car on the go with public charging stations. These are faster than home charging stations, but take longer than regular gas stations.
Why are electric cars important to Costa Rica?
Let us take a look at the statistics for a moment. Road vehicles are responsible for nearly 75% of global greenhouse gas emissions from transport. A typical internal combustion engine will emit carbon dioxide and soot, as well as other harmful gases.
These gases are not good for humans, animals or the surrounding environment. Soot and other particles can irritate the lungs and even cause cardiovascular problems. The build-up of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, along with other gases, adds enormously to climate change.
The bottom line is that fossil fuel vehicles are terrible for the environment. In addition, the cars do not leave. More and more cars are put on the roads every year. The logical solution is to make these cars less harmful to the environment, which is where electric cars come in.
Electric cars have no emissions because the engine is powered by batteries rather than fuels. Granted, this doesn’t mean that electric cars always achieve zero emissions over their lifecycle, as the electricity used to charge them doesn’t always come from carbon-free sources. However, because the electricity produced in Costa Rica is almost entirely from renewable sources. This means that the electric cars that drive in Costa Rica contribute much less to greenhouse gas emissions.
Electric cars are not only good for the environment, they can also be good for your bank account. The electricity used to run these vehicles is much cheaper than gasoline or diesel, which means you save a lot of money when refueling. In addition, many countries tax fossil fuel vehicles, but not electric cars.
Most electric cars are also generally easier to drive and less expensive to maintain. They have a simpler design that breaks down less often and does not require an oil change or other routine maintenance checks.
Can I use electric cars in Costa Rica?
You absolutely can use electric cars in Costa Rica. Remember that Costa Rica has always favored green energy and that electric cars are a big step in the right direction. Starting in 2020, Costa Rica is proud to announce a nationwide electric vehicle charging network, making it the first country in the region to achieve this.
A nationwide electric charging network means you can travel anywhere in Costa Rica in an electric vehicle, without worrying about running out of juice. There are over 140 places to charge your electric car in Costa Rica, and the number will only increase. Most of these charging stations are in the more urban areas of Costa Rica, but you are by no means confined to these areas.
The Costa Rican Electricity Institute and Correos de Costa Rica use fleets of electric vehicles to get around. The Costa Rican government is encouraging more people to use electric vehicles, offering tax breaks, zero import duties, and perks like free parking for owners and suppliers. In March 2021, nearly 3,500 electric vehicles were sold in Costa Rica.
So, you are not only able to drive your electric car in Costa Rica, you are encouraged to do so.
The future of electric cars in Costa Rica
As I mentioned earlier, Costa Rica is currently embarking on a national decarbonization plan, which aims to make Costa Rica one of the first carbon-free countries in the world. This plan runs until 2050, but changes were implemented as soon as it was implemented in 2019.
Electric vehicles are an integral part of this plan, so it makes sense that Costa Rica will only become more electric car friendly in the near future. In addition to encouraging the personal use of electric vehicles, Costa Rica is exploring the possibilities of electric public transport.
One exciting plan is the Limon Electric Freight Train Project, which aims to modernize sections of railroad and create an electric rail system. This is just one example of the expansion and modernization of rail lines in Costa Rica.
It looks like the future is electric in Costa Rica.