Monday, May 20, 2024

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Government to import electric vehicles when resuming vehicle imports

Sri Lanka will develop a strategic plan to promote electric vehicles (EV) in line with an expansion in renewable energy according priority to EV imports, a senior minister said.   

The cabinet of ministers has approved a strategic plan to create the background needed to import and promote the use of electric vehicles.

The proposal was submitted by the Minister of Environment. A study by the University of Moratuwa has found that 60 per cent of the air pollution was caused by vehicle emissions, the proposal had said.

Sri Lanka’s environment minister Mahinda Amaraweera has submitted a cabinet paper proposing that electric vehicles be prioritised when resuming vehicle imports, the minister said, amid an ongoing power crisis on top of a dollar shortage.

Amaraweera said the proposal was made in line with President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s commitment towards renewable energy.

In the wake of this proposal Vega Innovations, the company that unveiled VEGA, the flagship electric supercar, the first of its kind built in Sri Lanka, has designed an electric Three-wheeler and an electric ATV.

Director and co-founder of Vega Innovations Dr. Beshan Kulapala said the electric three-wheeler will be introduced to the Sri Lankan market in late 2022, for a competitive price.

“We hope to introduce this three-wheeler to India, Pakistan, Nepal, and Africa,” he said adding that it would be manufactured in Sri Lanka and then exported.

Sri Lanka has an ongoing import ban on vehicles, with Finance Minister Basil Rajapaksa stating in December that no new vehicles will be imported in 2022. 

However, President Rajapaksa in his policy statement to parliament last Monday (18) said the government will allow the resumption of vehicle imports in the future, with priority given to electric vehicles.

“When we allow the import of vehicles in the future, we hope to give priority to electric vehicles. Accordingly, we should plan to use renewable energy sources as much as possible when supplying electricity to vehicles,” he said.

The president also noted that about 20 percent of Sri Lanka’s annual import expenditure is allocated for oil imports.

“When the total export earnings are less than 1,000 million US dollars a month, we have to spend about 350 million a month on oil alone. About 70 percent of the imported fuel is used as fuel for vehicles. 

It costs about 21 percent to generate electricity. Only 4 percent is used for industry,” he said.

The government’s emphasis on electric vehicles comes amid a power crisis, with the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB)’s engineering union warning consumers of daily outages of nearly two hours starting Monday.The power crisis has been triggered by a shortage in fuel and furnace oil supply to the CEB’s thermal generation plants by the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC) amid a forex shortage for imports and insufficient water levels at reservoirs for hydro power generation, on top of a breakdown at the Norochcholai coal power plant

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