An effort to free Hawaii from oil dependence

Pete Cooper
Pete Cooper

By Duane Shimogawa - bio | email

KIHEI, Maui (KHNL) - It's an effort to shift Hawaii out of its dependence on gas. A group called Better Place is hoping to help the State out with this.

They're a sustainable transportation company that's building electric vehicle re-charge networks around the world, including in Hawaii.

Friday on Maui, the company's Hawaii developer spoke about plans to put a 100,00 electric cars on island roads.

"This idea can accelerate adoption of the electric vehicles and hopefully put vehicles in those idle plants and give people jobs in the auto industry and hopefully that translates to dealers selling those vehicles in Hawaii," Better Place Global Developer Pete Cooper said.

The plan includes the use of re-charge stations around the islands and at people's homes.

Cooper spoke to Hawaii auto dealers at their annual convention. He says there are many challenges facing his group, but they hope people in the Aloha State will show some Aloha for the project.

"The locals in Hawaii, the businesses in Hawaii, they have been supportive," he said. "The biggest challenge is taking all this energy that everyone has to move towards renewable fuels, electricity and actually focus it. Move everybody in the same direction."

It's a hard sell for them, but so far, some dealers are buying in to the plan.

"I think dealers are the most adaptable people on earth, so they're adapting to ideas like the electric car and other thoughts like that and I'm sure they'll find ways to meet the public's need for transportation," Hawaii Auto Dealers' Association Executive Director Dave Rolf said.

Better Place developers say a driver who drives 15,000 miles per year has an annual gas bill of $3,000. They estimate the yearly cost for electric cars would be around $1,000.