AS I was witnessing CFAO Motors Zambia, an authorised Toyota distributor, launch Toyota Hybrid Electric Vehicles (HEVs) on the Zambian market, I reflected on how far the country has come on this road.
In fact, I reminisced, if the previous government had made timely moves in terms of policy measures in support of the use of electric vehicles in the country, Zambia could have been among the first nations in the region to go electric.
For some reason, the Government was too slow to put various measures in place in time to support the shift to the use of electric vehicles (EVs).
For instance, as early as 2018, Amilak Investment (Zambia) launched the electric utility vehicles on the Zambian market.
Amilak Investments, a local based company, was expected to bring electric-powered vehicles in Zambia before the end of 2018 from Germany.
The company had partnered with a German firm to deliver the electric-powered vehicles in Zambia which would have been the hub of the electric vehicles manufacturing in the region.
In June 2020, company chief executive officer, Charles Kalima told me that things had not gone according to the plan.
In a response to my Press query Mr Kalima had said that the EV project was dealt a blow by the Road Traffic Safety Agency (RTSA) following a meeting in May 2019 in which officials expressed reservations.
According to him, RTSA indicated that the 100 per cent electric vehicles were not provided for in Zambian laws as the legal framework then allowed for registration of vehicles based on cylinder capacity (CC).
EVs do not have this as they are run by electric motors.
Then RTSA head of public relations, Frederick Mubanga said that the Amilak Investments project on EVs could have failed for safety reasons and other specifications.
According to Mr Mubanga, the Government would come up with clear guidelines on what kind of electric motor vehicles should be allowed and registered in the country.
He said that the size of the motor vehicles were also a factor as some EVs were too small to pass the current specifications in the country.
Fast forward to three years later, last week, CFAO Motors Zambia, launched the Toyota Hybrid Electric Vehicles (HEVs) with an appeal for the Government to reclassify them as the same as Electric Vehicles (EV) for tax purposes.
According to CFAO zero rating taxes and customs duties on HEVs will make the vehicles affordable and accessible to the local consumers for a more sustainable future.
CFAO Motors Zambia Limited chief executive officer Dino Bianchi says the Toyota Corolla Cross and RAV 4 hybrid electric vehicles launched are a commitment and dedication to advancing the model line-up and bringing the latest automotive technologies available in Zambia.
During the occasion, we learnt that the HEVs are equipped with the latest technology with outstanding performance, reduced fuel consumption and harmful carbon emissions.
To support the steady shift to electric vehicle use in the country, the Government has come up with tax measures in the 2024 National Budget.
To continue promoting the usage of clean energy as well as supporting the green economy and climate change mitigation the Government has proposed removal of customs duty on electric motor cycles, electric vehicles, electric buses, electric trucks, and attendant accessories like charging systems.
Similarly, the Government will reduce excise duty to 25 per cent from 30 per cent on hybrid vehicles designed for the transportation of persons.
For entities stocking HEVs to maximise the benefits from the tax measures, Mr Bianchi appeals to the Government to consider reclassifying HEVs as the same as EVs for tax purposes.
It is encouraging that the Government has been proactive on this matter to ensure that Zambia moves alongside the rest of the world in transitioning to the use of EVs.
With the tax measures in place under the 2024 National Budget, it is likely that the country will start seeing an influx of EVs on the market to ensure that the country does not lag behind others.
Given the rate at which the world is becoming globalised and the need to ultimately move away from the use of fossil energy, it is important to invest more in such technology as the EVs.
After all, technologic trends will never wait for anyone and, therefore, there is need to adequately prepare for them instead of resisting technological changes.
Just word of notification, I will be proceeding on my regular break from the forum for at least a month starting from next week.
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