Electric Mobility in Central America

Report page IDB

Electric vehicles (EVs) play an essential role in mitigating transport sector emissions, reducing air pollution, slashing reliance on oil imports, and improving urban mobility. The six nations of Central America covered in this publication—Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Panama—are all at differing stages of developing EV markets, according to a report authored by Lisa Viscidi, non-resident senior fellow with the Energy, Climate Change & Extractive Industries Program (written during her tenure as director of the program) and published by the Inter-American Development Bank.

This publication assesses the energy, transport, and climate change context, describes the status of EV uptake and charging infrastructure, and analyzes the policy and regulatory frameworks for electric mobility in each country. The publication also identifies the challenges for electric mobility in Central America and offers policy recommendations for the region to advance electric mobility in both private and public transport.



Key Findings

  • With the exception of Costa Rica, which boasts several thousand EVs, markets for electric cars are quite nascent in Central America. Guatemalan and Panamanian EV stocks number in the low hundreds, while Honduras, El Salvador and Nicaragua have no more than a handful of electric cars. For electric buses, no country has progressed beyond the pilot stage.
  • Policy frameworks are at different stages across the six countries. Costa Rica approved an electric mobility incentives law in January 2018, and El Salvador approved one in May 2021. Panama has crafted a comprehensive national electric mobility strategy, and Guatemala is debating EV legislation. In contrast, Honduras is merely beginning to identify information gaps to create its electric mobility policy framework, and Nicaragua has not progressed beyond organizing an inter-agency electric mobility working group meeting.
  • Central American countries all have work to do in clarifying regulations for EV infrastructure, designing specifications and concessions for electric buses, and promoting viable electric mobility business models and financing mechanisms. The report recommends the following policies:
    • Identify or create a government entity or group focused on electric mobility
    • Further define policy goals and roadmaps on e-mobility
    • Implement fiscal incentives whereby the benefits outweigh the costs
    • Develop regulation to support a dynamic ecosystem of EV charging services
    • Develop training and capacity building programs
    • Design pilot projects and specific targets to introduce electric buses
    • Develop sound business models for electric buses

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