EV training headed to Kauai

  • photo submitted by Kauai EV

    An electric vehicle sits near the Kalalau Valley Lookout sign in Waimea Canyon.

LIHUE — Hawaii’s sustainable transportation coalition has just certified 41 electric vehicle experts on Maui, Oahu and Hawaii Island, and is looking at Kauai for certifications in 2019.

Those 41 Hawaii automobile sales associates are now certified Electric Vehicle (EV) Experts through the Blue Planet Foundation’s EV Expert Certification Program, which Kauai EV’s Sonja Kass was able to provide feedback on when it was being developed.

“I talked with them a year ago when they were in the process for Oahu,” Kass said. “It makes so much sense, because, in general, most dealers know less about electric cars than the people who want to buy them.”

The EV Expert Certification Program partners with local dealerships to create a cohort of automobile sales associates and dealership staff in Hawaii that is well-equipped to respond effectively to the growing interest in EVs, according to Blue Planet Foundation.

It’s a way to get everyone on the same page.

“The EV Expert Certification Program equips dealership sales associates with the knowledge and skills they need to be successful in a rapidly evolving EV marketplace,” said Lauren Reichelt, Clean Transportation Lead at Blue Planet Foundation and STCH Coordinator.

She continued: “Those interested in buying or leasing an electric vehicle can now access this growing network of EV Experts and be confident that they will have the best possible customer experience at the dealership.”

The certification program comes at a time when EVs are rapidly gaining popularity across the state. According to latest data from the Hawaii Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism, monthly EV registrations jumped by 265 vehicles in November as compared to the previous month.

This is the largest month over month growth ever in EV sales in Hawaii, according to the agency, taking the total number of passenger EVs in the state to 8,219. This total represents an increase of 24% in EV passenger registrations from the same month last year.

Automakers globally are investing significant resources in EVs. However, research suggests that the customer experience for purchasing an EV is often poor, in part due to sales staff occasionally lacking knowledge about the new and emerging EV experience.

Kass said that’s reflected on Kauai.

“People really need to know about the cars, to know where the charging stations are and how far the car goes,” she said. “Blue Planet Foundation has done a lot of good for the state, they should be more active here. It’s a great idea.”

In addition to expanding to Kauai in 2019, the EV Expert Certification Program will continue to expand to sales associates throughout the islands.

“The EV Expert Certification Program is intended to break down one of the remaining barriers to EV adoption in the state, and the expansion of this program will ultimately help Hawaii achieve both 100% clean electricity and 100% clean transportation by 2045,” said Reichelt. “The more EV Experts we have connecting with consumers, the more EVs there will be on the road, and the faster we can transition to a clean energy future.”

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Jessica Else, environment reporter, can be reached at 245-0452 or at jelse@thegardenisland.com

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