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Costa Rica Electric Vehicles

Costa Rican incentives to purchase electric vehicles to support its carbon free plan and green vision, offers opportunities for U.S. electric vehicle producers.

Costa Rica has created incentives to purchase EV’s in the market, either used or new, this new trend is compatible with its green vision of the country and the carbon free plans and represents an opportunity for the U.S. electric vehicle sector.

Costa Rica has a well-developed renewable energy infrastructure that started with building large hydro dams during the last century.  The Costa Rican government is promoting electric vehicle imports and their use. Costa Rica currently generates over 99% of the country’s electricity from renewable sources: hydro, wind, geothermal and solar.  During non-peak demand hours, Costa Rica even generates an excess of electricity supply.

The main government policy maker and generator, I.C.E. (Costa Rican Institute of Electricity) has changed part of its own fleet (100 vehicles) to EV’s.  The government has created incentives to promote electric transportation adoption through zero import duties for new cars. Increased use of EV’s should enhance the country’s already strong “eco-friendly” image. Currently, Costa Rica sells approximately 150,000 petroleum-fueled vehicles a year (pre-pandemic), and the latest figures (March 2021) indicate EV sales of 1606 electric cars, 625 electric motorcycles and 1,218 special use vehicles (such as golf carts). 

In December 2017 the Costa Rican National Assembly approved the Law 9518 for incentives towards electric transportation and EV use, including tax exemptions on consumption, sales and customs for imports.  An additional incentives package was added in 2018 and not only includes tax cuts on imports, but also key perks such as elimination of license plate driving restrictions, waiving payment of yearly road permits and free parking in designated areas. Given the new law and the renewed focus on green transportation, this has been an opportunity to expand EV sales throughout the country. 

Currently, new or used EVs circulating in Costa Rica include the following brands ; Audi, BMW, ByD, Chery, Chevrolet, Dulevo, FAW, Fiat, Ford, KIA, Great Wall, Hyundai, JAC, Jaguar, MG, Maxus, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Renault, Reva, Smart, Tesla, Volkswagen, Yema, Xpeng and Yudo. Imports of EVs grew 23% during 2020 and the Costa Rican government expects to have over 15,000 EV’s in circulation by 2023.

According to the Costa Rican Electric Mobility Association (ASOMOVE), there are 37 quick chargers and 110 semi quick chargers in the country.  Electromaps reports 142 locations and 190 connectors. Despite the increasingly better charging infrastructure, there is still a lot of space for growth, specially with the private sector.

U.S. companies involved in electric transportation field are encouraged to contact the U.S. Department of Commerce Specialist in San Jose, Costa Rica for more information: Roy.Fernandez@trade.gov

06/09/2021