Reasons to Drive an Electric Vehicle in Costa Rica

Why should you buy an electric vehicle (EV) instead of internal combustion engine vehicle (ICE) ? In Costa Rica the reasons are similar to those in other countries around the world, but also there are some advantages specific to Costa Rica. The short answer is that the ICE Age is coming to an end, so don’t be a woolly mammoth! You can investigate the details below.

The Environment – The number one motivation for people and companies that already own EVs in Costa Rica is the environment. The reduction of greenhouse gas emissions is beneficial to the health of people in the country, and also reduces the environmental impact within Costa Rica and globally. Since over 95% of the electricity produced in Costa Rica is from renewable sources, the zero emission vehicle in Costa Rica doesn’t impact the environment significantly over it’s useful life.

Save Money on FuelGasoline and Diesel fuel is expensive in Costa Rica, nearly 50% of the price at the pump per liter is from taxes. While RECOPE does a good job of keeping the costs down when they buy on the international market, they also don’t distribute that fuel as efficiently as they might, and the quality is not up to US or European standards. Even at normal household electricity rates, an EV is extremely economical to operate when compared to a gasoline or diesel vehicle.

Save Money on Maintenance – Gasoline engine vehicles have about 10,000 parts on average, and electric vehicle has 1,000. That’s 9,000 parts that you don’t have to ever replace because they don’t even exist. Think of the normal maintenance you do on your internal combustion engine vehicle, almost none of that is necessary with an EV.

  • Air filter
  • Oil filter
  • Fuel filter
  • Engine oil
  • Fuel pump
  • Fuel injectors
  • Spark or glow plugs
  • Muffler
  • Catalytic converter
  • Emissions control systems
  • Timing belt

None of these even exist. Some parts that do exist, brake pads for instance, don’t really wear out because of the special characteristics of the EV.* These are just normal items that you will have to replace from wear and tear.

Now think about all the times you’ve been stranded because of a breakdown: the car wouldn’t start because the alternator, starter or battery was bad, the vehicle overheated because of a leak in the engine cooling system or the water pump went bad, you stopped because an emissions sensor caused the check engine light to come on, and so on. These don’t exist either!

*In case you’re wondering, there is a mechanism for capturing energy from braking — this doesn’t involve the brake pads, so the usual brake pad wear and tear only happens occasionally.

Enjoy the Ride – An EV has better acceleration and torque than an ICE engine, so they are FUN to drive. The electric signals to the drive train happen at the speed of electricity, and there is no lag from when you press the accelerator to when the vehicle responds. It’s instant!

Help the Economy of Costa Rica – An important factor that isn’t commonly discussed is the amount of money EVs save in foreign exchange. According to figures from Recope (the national fuel distributor) and ICT (the tourism institute), the amount of money that goes annually to purchase fossil fuel in Costa Rica is similar (or greater than) the amount of money that comes in to the country from tourism. Since all the electricity is locally produced, you can imagine the boost to the economy if all of this money stayed in Costa Rica!

Recope is the agency charged with bringing fossil fuels to Costa Rica

Secure Energy Sources – Fortunately, Costa Rica is not a target for terrorist attacks or other massive disturbances, but it does depend on fuels refined from oil in Venezuela, the Middle East and North America. IF there were to be disruptions in the drilling or refining operations for any reason, then the current petroleum dependency would put Costa Rica in deep trouble. Transitioning to vehicles that depend on energy that is produced locally would help Costa Rica enormously in any type of global market crisis.

Free Charging, Free or Priority Parking and No Plate Restriction — In 2018 the legislative assembly passed a law to promote the development of electric transportation, this includes many perks for electric vehicles. Cities are allowed to offer free parking spaces for electric vehicles. Other institutions and commercial property owners may also designate spaces for electric vehicles only. Many of these spaces also include charge points, and since no one besides the government owned power companies may sell electricity, you get free charging! These designated spaces are normally close to the building entrance, for example the modern Oxigeno mall in Heredia has 16 spaces for electric vehicles, with 8 charge points. You still pay for parking, but you can get “free miles” ! You can get more information on the benefits in the law on this page: ( Law 9518 on Electric Transportation in Costa Rica )

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