Buses include the manufacturer’s first tour/charter EV motorcoaches in the country and adds to the EV school bus fleet on O‘ahu.

HONOLULU —  On July 20th, 2023 the Hawai‘i State Energy Office, the Hawai‘i Department of Health and Roberts Hawai‘i, Inc. debuted five new zero-emission electric-battery buses that will provide clean transportation for tourists and keiki on O‘ahu.

The buses were purchased with assistance from the Diesel Replacement Rebate (DRR) program. Funded by the Volkswagen Environmental Mitigation Trust and the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act, the DRR provides rebates of up to 45 percent of the total purchase amount to replace medium- and heavy-duty diesel vehicles and equipment with new battery electric or hydrogen equivalents. The rebate also covers up to 45% of an EV charger per electric vehicle.

“We are absolutely committed to pursuing climate change strategies that are equitable, culturally responsive and resilient,” said Governor Josh Green, M.D. “Renewable energy and sustainable transportation are going to be a huge part of our future, so we need to build on progress we have already made, with more events like today. I want to thank all the partners gathered here for their leadership and hard work toward our clean energy goals,” Governor Green said.

“Hawai‘i’s goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions at a rate greater than it produces no later than 2045 requires a significant change to how we get around,” said Hawai‘i State Chief Energy Officer Mark B. Glick. “Transportation is the leading source of greenhouse gas emissions by replacing older diesel vehicles with zero-emission alternatives helps to provide progress toward these goals.”

The DRR program is one of many activities the state is taking to achieve its renewable energy and decarbonization goals. Administered by the Hawai‘i State Energy Office in partnership with the Hawai‘i Department of Health (DOH), and United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the program has allocated approximately $3.2 million in rebates to help offset the purchase of eight vehicles – seven buses and one forklift. The five buses recently dedicated were purchased during the first year of the DRR program in 2022 and arrived in recent weeks. The other vehicles are expected to be purchased through the second year of the rebate program now underway.

“The Department of Health is excited to continue our partnership with the EPA and HSEO in support of the Diesel Replacement Rebate program, modernizing Hawai‘i’s vehicles by replacing older diesel vehicles with battery-electric equivalents, supporting Hawai‘i’s climate change goals, and reducing harmful diesel engine emissions to protect public health,” said DOH Clean Air Branch Program Manager Marianne Rossio.

The rebate program provides state businesses and entities with an important tool to reduce barriers to adopting zero-emissions alternatives that in turn benefit their customers and communities.

“Roberts Hawaiʻi appreciates the Hawaiʻi State Energy Office and the Hawaiʻi Department of Health’s support through rebate assistance. While we are striving to adapt by providing zero-emission transportation options, this transformation involves new technology and it requires major upgrades to properties and, as such, the cost of electric buses, associated infrastructure, and workforce training is high.  A shared public-private cost model is necessary, and we must work together to meet the state’s 2045 zero-emission target and to protect Hawaiʻi’s environment for future generations, said Roy Pfund, President and CEO of Robert’s Hawai‘i.”