Let's talk about Teslas in Trinidad and Tobago with Ian Smart of Smart Energy Limited

Why should someone in Trinidad and Tobago buy a Tesla?

Our goal is to help drive the adoption of emission free transportation in Trinidad and I think we have done that. When Smart Energy brought in the first Tesla into T&T, we created excitement in the market and proved to car owners that it is possible to go electric in Trinidad and Tobago. People don’t have to buy a Tesla, but Tesla’s are cool. The driving performance is exceptional, and the acceleration is like being launched on a rollercoaster. We are happy with any EV that is sold in Trinidad that means there is one less fossil car on the road. One thing I want to clearly state is that our prices for evs are the most competative at this point.

Are there any charging stations in the country?

Yes, but more fast charging stations in key destinations would aid adoption. These stations would support lower range EVs such as the Nissan Leaf. The range in Teslas is more than the average Trinbagonian would drive in any one day. A charging station at home would satisfy the average Tesla owner.

How many Teslas are on the road in the country?

Four, Two Model S’s, one Model 3 and X.

Tell us about Smart Energy Limited?

Smart Energy started out as a renewable energy company that specialized in solar installations, we also did renewable energy education training and energy audits but now we have fully transitioned to a green tech company that focuses on electric vehicles. We realise that evs have the capability to kill two birds with one stone that is tackle the issue of clean mobility as well as electric resiliency. An electric car combined with a bidirectional charger can serve as a power source to power your home in the advent of a power outage. 

Tell us about the time you brought in the first Tesla?

We staged a launch at both movietowne and at hyatt to show case the model S Tesla. We collaborated with Bad Granny and got sponsored by Hadco and First Citizens Bank for the launches.

We had turn out from the Minister of Energy and coverage from different media houses like Guardian. We would have been the first electric vehicle in Trinidad except the UTT bus that came in a few months before however our vehicle hit the road before the bus because we had a skilled team to assist in the licensing of the vehicle at the licensing office which was a challenge. 

Are your Teslas covered by warranty?

Teslas are covered by the manufactures warranty within the markets that they are sold. For the Teslas that Smart Energy has brought in, Tesla has made available their Ranger service out of Puerto Rico and Miami at no cost. We have a local mechanic who has worked alongside the Rangers and we can service the vehicles in Trinidad for the majority of issues. Also we are working with national renewable energy lab which is an institution in the US government that assists international countries in transitioning to green mobility. We are hoping to get assistance from them in helping us get technology transfer and investment matching to assist us in setting up service centers in the future.

How are these Teslas serviced?

See above

Do we need legislation for self driving cars?

We are a decade away from that. Currently we don’t have the infrastructure for that.

Are there any known issues with Teslas?

Yes, the internet has many stories of known issues. Teslas are cars and cars have wear and tear. We strongly recommend that consumers who are considering purchasing a Tesla recognize that there are risks involved with being an early adopter.

What is the cost per mile and how does that compare to gas prices locally?

TTEC charges $0.37/kWh. A full battery charge for the base model Tesla would cost $22.20 for 405km of range. This is about $.10 per mile, but as the battery efficiency improves, Tesla owners will get more range for the same cost. The mileage cost of an electric car is roughly 4 times cheaper than running an equivalent car that runs on fuel.

What are some frequent questions you get asked about Teslas?

Is financing and insurance available?

Financing and Insurance can be arrange through our partner institutions.

What is maintenance like?

As the vehicle doesn’t have an engine or conventional transmission, the service requirements are much less. Tesla Motors suggests rotating tires every 8,000 km and performing an annual wheel alignment; Brake fluid should be replaced every 2 years (40K km); Battery coolant every 4 years (80K km); Transmission fluid every 12 years (240K km).

How long the batteries last?

It is expected that the Model S could travel over 200,000KM without any material battery degradation.

Anything else you would like to add?

Yes, we don’t only sell Teslas but a range of pure evs that we can source through Japan such as nissan, honda, benz, bmw, subaru, porshe, audi, lexus, mazda. Also our goal is not just to supply evs to the Trinidad and Tobago market but for the wider Caribbean and Latin American market.

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