JPS, IDB plug in training apparatus for EV revolution
Jamaica yesterday made significant strides towards the technological transition to electric vehicles (EVs) after successfully administering training to a cohort of technically advanced personnel who will impart knowledge to hundreds locally.
The eDrive project, launched by the Jamaica Public Service (JPS) Foundation in partnership with Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) Lab, was conceived to develop technical capacities in local training institutions to enable them to meet the new demand for skills arising from the emergence of an electric mobility industry.
The training reportedly puts Jamaica in the top 10 per cent of auto mechanics in the world who are trained to work on EVs and as the leader in the region.
Yesterday, at the HEART/NSTA Trust Jamaican-German Automotive School (JAGAS) campus in St Andrew, seven persons received their certification, joining the eight who were certified a week earlier under the Train the Trainer programme.
The 15 professionals were exposed to Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI) courses related to EV repair, maintenance and safety.
They are now equipped to embark on the second phase in which they will train another 400 persons – 200 first responders and 200 persons in EV maintenance.
Lead trainer Andy Laitham, from UK-based institution EINTAC and who was instrumental in the exercise, told The Gleaner that it was a great project.
Laitham said that he was glad to be part of the initiative in Jamaica and found it humbling to lead the future pioneers in the IMI, a UK-based professional association for individuals working in the motor industry.
“It was really when I got here I realised what we were doing and what was happening and the initiative that was being started to change, to transition Jamaica from internal combustion to electrical. To be part of that whole process is good,” Laitham told The Gleaner.
He is optimistic Jamaica will surpass the 400 trainees in waiting and says his support and guidance will carry over.
Audrey Williams, media and public relations manager at the JPS, told The Gleaner that the eDrive project is one that is all about helping to create access to electric mobility and helping to support the businesses that are necessary to have eMobility.
“Persons who are trained come from various institutions – Jamaica Defence Force, Caribbean Maritime [University], HEART (JAGAS); and other places,” Williams said of the best-in-class auto technicians now certified.
EV mobility policy
Last month, Science, Energy and Technology Minister Daryl Vaz said that the Cabinet had signed off the long-awaited EV mobility policy, bringing an end to the months-long delay. The policy will pave the way for consumers who want to buy EVs by going the route of a dealer or importing the vehicles directly from an overseas supplier.
Vaz admitted that since his tabling of the policy, it had been awaiting the requisite fiscal support from the Ministry of Finance.
Incentives will be provided for people who were interested in buying EVs.
“Therefore, if you have the same duty on a more expensive vehicle, then you don’t get the value for what you are trying to do, which is to stay with the moving technology, [which is] to go to electric vehicles. So we will go to chief parliamentary counsel, we will have a concessionary rate of 10 per cent and so as not to make Jamaica a dumping ground, we will put an age limit of three years,” Vaz said at last month’s launch of the annual Road Safety Awareness Month.
Williams told The Gleaner that there is, therefore, a heavy emphasis on safety and just handling EVs.
“These are virtually maintenance-free and cheaper to operate. They are roughly 30 per cent cheaper than running a vehicle that needs gas or diesel,” Williams said.
She added that the HEART/NSTA Trust is also seeking to refashion the EV repair, maintenance and safety curriculum for the Jamaican context.
“We are the first Caribbean country to have persons certified in the IMI certification. EVs are definitely the way of the future. A number of car manufacturers have already declared that they are going to be ceasing the production of internal combustion engine vehicles and will be going strictly EVs on some of their lines,” Williams pointed out.
The JPS is now building out a network of charging stations across Jamaica and will soon commission the latest station in New Kingston, adding to others in Drax Hall, St Ann; Ironshore, Montego Bay; Manor Park, St Andrew; and Portland.
Other private sector entities have also established EV charging stations across the island.