Electric Vehicles in the Pacific Islands? An Investigation of the Possibilities of Electro-mobility in Samoa
The identification of alternative transport modes is urgently required as fuel price inflation is adversely affecting Samoa’s energy security and increasingly its economic and social well-being. The Samoan government has recognised the society-wide implications of fuel dependency and is moving towards improving fuel use efficiency of the national transport fleet and the identification of viable alternative transport fuels. This research analysed findings from global transport stakeholder organisations and modelled the energy consumption of electric vehicles (BEVs) under Samoan conditions. The results pointed to lower operating cost of BEVs which led to stakeholder support for the eCar pilot project aimed at establishing the feasibility of electro-mobility. The study adopted a postdevelopment approach as it provided information about BEV technology and invited Samoan transport stakeholders to contribute to mutual learning about alternative transport modes via a series of participative workshops. Postdevelopment thinking also pointed to assumptions made under prevailing conceptions of the modernist development project which may see the promotion of electro-mobility in the form of a commercial technology which is unaffordable to the majority of Samoans. The study concludes that in order to make electro-mobility accessible to a wider section of society, the concept of electro-mobility needs to be deconstructed into its components and rebuild to suit Samoa’s conception of modernity. This could literally mean BEV retrofit conversions of second hand cars to take advantage of the well documented energy efficiency of the electric motor and discounting the status enhancing ownership of a commercial BEV.