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Southern Sales and Service Company Limited, Chief Executive Officer Imtiaz Ahamad speaks to GML at his San Fernando office yesterday.

KEVON [email protected]

Government plans to remove Motor Vehicle Tax, Customs Duty, and Value added tax on the importation of electric vehicles to reduce the cost to consumers in 2022.

However, chief executive officer of Southern Sales Ltd Imtiaz Ahamad says it would take some time before electric vehicles become a prominent showroom feature. In an interview with Guardian Media yesterday, Ahamad said new vehicle dealers have to negotiate with manufacturers to supply a new line of vehicles.

He said negotiation for an electric vehicle is even longer as training for maintenance and the provision of spare parts were factors. The length of negotiations depends on the vehicle manufacturer. Ahamad said a dealer might not get a solid response for a new line before four to six months.

However, he accepts the challenge for Southern Sales to have its first electric vehicle before the end of 2022. Following Minister of Finance Colm Imbert’s announcement of tax exemptions on the import of electric vehicles, Southern Sales began looking into the option. The company markets Audi, Mazda, Kia, and Isuzu.“We hope to be successful with the negotiation and discussions particularly, they were initially with Audi, and we could land at least one model. One fully electric, battery-powered sometime next year through the Audi brand, and then we will take it from there,” Ahamad said.The company also plans to import spare parts and conduct the necessary training.

Ahamad does not expect a Mazda electric vehicle in the foreseeable future as that negotiation would take longer. He said foreign used dealers purchase vehicles from auction houses and would be able to introduce new lines of electric vehicles faster.

And while most of the electric vehicles in T&T are under premium brands, he says the foreign used market will provide other options. He encourages customers taking this route to ask their dealers about maintenance and replacement parts. Electric vehicles are costlier than their fuel-powered alternatives, but Ahamad said there are benefits to the environment, controlled driving, and reduction in maintenance cost. He said the government must develop a policy to improve the attractiveness of electric vehicles as it seeks to reduce T&T’s carbon footprint. “Another point to consider is volume. Volume drives business. Volume drives prices. Volume drives the whole aspect of marketability. So if you think hybrid and you think that electric vehicles are more expensive, you have to find that balancing act where if you want to promote one type more, focus on one type of promotion. You may have to limit another, and so the government needs to understand their focus.” He said consumers need to understand the focus because if given the option of electric versus hybrid, there is no doubt that people would choose the latter, which has cheaper options and are available in T&T. So if people and companies want to contribute to environmental change for the better, electric vehicles present an opportunity.

Ahamad said that with the savings provided through tax exemptions, there may be a few more models to choose from by the end of 2022.

He wants to make his contribution to environmental change by purchasing an electric vehicle as well.