People’s interest in electric vehicles is growing in Hawaii, and that was evident at the auto show at the Hawaii Convention Center over the weekend.

“I’ve seen people come here and say, ‘I came here to test drive an electric vehicle,” said Jennifer Lieu, communication specialist at Ulupono Initiative. 

And electric vehicle sales are growing as well. 

“Electric vehicles have now reached about 8,000 on [Hawaii] roadways and now there’s about a million cars on Oahu, so not quite 1% are electric yet,” said David Rolf, executive director of Hawaii Automobile Dealers Association. 

Many new electric vehicle owners made the switch because of the perks. 

Current benefits for EV owners include a $7,500 tax credit when you purchase the vehicle, free parking at airports and most parking structures, and riding in the HOV lane without a passenger. 

But once a manufacturer sells 200,000 cars, the tax credit drops in half. 

In 2012, Governor David Ige signed Act 168 which allowed cars to park for free at certain structures.

But now, some legislators say owners are taking advantage of the rules and introduced a bill this year that would only allow four hours of free parking to electric vehicles at the airport. 

Testimony from the department of accounting and general services noted the current law allows electric vehicles to move from stall to stall to avoid parking fees. 

They wrote in testimony: 

“This is abuse of parking privilege that electric vehicle owners are taking advantage of in all areas. This abuse takes away valuable public parking stall from legitimate users who need to do business in the area when personal EV’s are parked in the area for the whole day.”

The Department of Transportation, who provides the parking at airports, supported the bill writing charging stations at its airports…”are often occupied by EVs for extended periods past adequate charging. “

The DOT estimates a loss of $3.5 million in revenue at Daniel K. Inouye International Airport alone.

Gov. Ige’s Act regarding free parking will expire in June 2020.

Senator Lorraine Inouye said she was disappointed the bill to limit the parking at airport did not pass, but says they’ll continue to push the issue.