Minister of Energy and Energy Industries Stuart Young, during a morning show on local television, admitted that CNG is not in the place it is supposed to be and the country would soon have to move away from it and follow the world trend of electric car transition.
Young was speaking on a panel with vice president of the Used Car Dealers Association, Rondall Feeles, on the removal of taxes on electric vehicles, announced in the 2021-2022 budget on Monday.
“I would be the first to admit that when I first came in and I looked at CNG, it has not gone where it is supposed to go,” Young said.
Young said that $200 million was invested in the drive to promote CNG vehicles. To date, there are over 15,000 CNG vehicles in Trinidad and Tobago, which include OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) vehicles and vehicles converted to CNG.
“The truth is with the CNG, it is a different technology. People tried it because it was a cleaner burning fuel than gas, but it didn’t work. When you look at it, we have to move away from CNG.”
He said, however, that it doesn’t mean that CNG will be abandoned. He noted that several CNG pumps were installed in the newly-opened NP gas station in Preysal.
“I don’t want people who are already using CNG to think that we are not going to use it. We will continue to use it.”
He said the technology in electric vehicles is changing rapidly, so much so that a large investment in infrastructure to support the use of electric vehicles may not be necessary.
“We no longer need the reliance on public infrastructure to charge the vehicles, because most of the cars can be charged at home. You may have to do some electricity conversion at home. The batteries have advanced, so eight years ago and even four years ago, it was a more difficult thing.”
“(But) the cars and vehicles now can charge in hours. The ranges (for electric cars) are between 200 and 300 miles on a full charge.”
Feeles said the Used Car Dealers Association had been advocating for government support to the introduction of electric vehicles eight years ago, adding that at the time it said people would not go the way of CNG, but would look to more futuristic means of transport.
“I was in an energy meeting with Mr Babwah and we tried to encourage them not to go in that direction. Their plan was to convert most of the driving population to CNG. Eight years later we were only able to convert and bring in 15,300 vehicles. I now have to wonder if that brought in any returns.
“Had we made the jump eight years ago, we would have been in a better position now.”
In the 2021-2022 budget, Minister of Finance Colm Imbert proposed the removal of all taxes and duties on electric vehicles.