Jamaica's mellow reputation and Rasta vibe contributes to an international reputation of an island nation that moves at a leisurely pace. And the term "leisurely" certainly applies to the rate of sales of hybrids there.

And we thought Mitsubishi i sales in the US have been slow.

The country's Toyota dealership is still in the process of explaining hybrid technology to many of its prospective customers, with the widespread perception remains that a standard Toyota Prius needs to be plugged in for electrical charging, the Jamaica Gleaner reports. Because of such slow exposure, Toyota has only sold about 10 hybrids in Jamaica since the Japanese automaker started selling them there in 2010. And we thought Mitsubishi i sales in the US have been slow.

Toyota dealers in Jamaica continue to tout hybrid technology that can boost fuel economy by about 30 percent but are going up against the fact that Toyota's hybrids now need to be pre-ordered and aren't kept in stock because of sluggish demand. There's also the fact that Toyota's Japanese operations insist on an approval process that ensures the hybrids sent there can handle Jamaica's road conditions, and it typically takes three to four months for a Prius to get to Jamaica once ordered.

Island locales provide a curious dichotomy for advanced-powertrain vehicles. On one hand, the driving distances tend to be relatively small, lengthening the amount of time it takes to pay back the original cost premium. On the flip side, importing fuel to islands makes gas prices skyrocket and can prove costly for the economy in island nations. Late last year, for instance, the government of another Caribbean nation, Barbados, estimated it spends about $250 million a year on gas used for personal vehicles. That's why the government there is pushing for more electric-vehicle adoption, though the number of EVs on the island was in the low double-digits as of mid-2013.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 5 Comments
      Marcopolo
      • 11 Months Ago
      Island nations should be perfect locations for EV's. However, most of these nations have very low per capita incomes, and need to import oil and fuel in economically large quantities, to justify the cost of delivery. Wealthy expat's and tourists may be able to afford vehicles with EV technology, but these are few in number and mostly disinterested. Many small Island nations are atolls, with incredibly steep gradients, which also prove difficult for EV's.
      Cis Shanu
      • 9 Months Ago
      Car auction is indeed a great idea to get of your choice on cheaper rates. There are lot of choices and variations. http://www.dabbilauktion.dk/
      islandboy
      • 11 Months Ago
      Since I live in Jamaica, I should add some local perspective. I tried to look up figures for car sales for the island but that data does not appear to be available on the internet. The best I could come up with was some figures from the following June 2013 article in the other daily news paper: http://m.jamaicaobserver.com/mobile/business/Car-sales-plummet-as-Gov-t-continues-with-onerous-duties_14426760 It includes the following sentence that gives new car sales for 2012, "In 2007, a total of 6,027 new vehicles were sold in Jamaica at a monthly average of 502 vehicles. Last year that figure dropped to 4,992 with a monthly average figure of 416 new vehicles." Used cars from the Japanese domestic market (JDM) represent a huge portion of the islands car imports but, again data is hard to come by. A November 2011 article in the Jamaica Gleaner reads "statistics provided by the Customs Department show that some 6,200 used vehicles were imported in 2009, a sharp fall off from the 14,000 that were imported in 2008." ( http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20111123/lead/lead6.html ) Without comparable figures it is difficult to ascertain what percentage of vehicle imports are new cars but, going by the above figures, it could be as little as a third and varies widely with changes in duties and more importantly, the age limit on used cars being imported. (The idiosyncrasies of the JDM can result in a reduction of the age limit by one year causing the average price of an imported used car to double.) The large number of used cars being imported from the JDM makes a mockery of the statement, "Toyota's Japanese operations insist on an approval process that ensures the hybrids sent there can handle Jamaica's road conditions." since, there is no such approval process for used vehicles. It also means that the figures reported by the single franchised Toyota dealer in Jamaica, Toyota Jamaica are not really representative of the amount of hybrids in the island. I have seen a few Toyota Prius' around and their numbers appear to be growing. Similarly, the local Nissan dealer does not sell the Leaf and has no plans to do so but, the manager of their service department tells me there are two in the island, one of which I actually saw driving a few months ago. At the same time, it should be fairly obvious to all that this is a patently unsustainable situation as stated in a December 2012 article in the Gleaner "Trade data unearthed through website www.diGJamaica.com has revealed that the value of all the island's exports from January to August this year would fail to cover the cost of importing petroleum products for the same period." (http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20121216/lead/lead2.html ) Local politicians seem to have their heads stuck where the sun doesn't shine and are more focused on winning the next election. Are politicians anywhere any different?
        Technoir
        • 11 Months Ago
        @islandboy
        Thank you for these good insights. Yes it is astounding that politicians do not do anything to curb oil imports, which visibly represent a large part of their expenses. Imagine what cutting off oil could do to Jamaica's economy?
          Marcopolo
          • 11 Months Ago
          @Technoir
          @ Technoir " Imagine what cutting off oil could do to Jamaica's economy?" That's sound's like a wonderful idea, if you don't have to try and actually institute such a policy. In practice, the energy needs problems of small island nations, is far more difficult. Jamaica has a population of nearly 3 million but a land area of only 4,244 sq mi. Jamaica's per capita income is less than $ 6000 per year. Oil is imported from Venezuela and Mexico, and since most electricity is produced from bunker oil, EV's would be more pollutant than gasoline vehicles ! The economic/environmental problems for many of these small nations, are difficult to solve. It's like telling a poor neighbor that he should install solar panels, when he doesn't own a roof !