First solar-powered car sold in Cayman

A Cayman car dealership has sold the islands’ first solar-powered car.

Androgroup’s Alan Roffey bought the vehicle, a Zenn (Zero Emission, No Noise) car, from Cayman Automotive on Thursday, but cannot drive it on public roads until a new Traffic Law is enacted.

John Felder, president and CEO of Cayman Automotive, said he believed the sale makes Androgroup the first company in the Caribbean to own an electric car powered by a solar-energy charger.

‘I’m very excited,’ he said. ‘This is just the beginning.’

Mr. Felder said he believes that in five years time, up to 20 per cent of vehicles on Cayman’s roads will be electric or hybrid cars.

‘I believe Cayman is going to be the benchmark for the Caribbean,’ he said.

The government is drafting a new Traffic Law that will address changing technologies, such as electric cars and the use of mobile phones while driving.

Mr. Felder explained that after appearing on a radio show on Thursday morning where he announced that the first five buyers of a Zenn would get an impressive discount, he attended a Rotary meeting. There he ran into Mr. Roffey and promptly made his first sale.

Mr. Roffey also ordered a solar-powered electric car charger and solar panels.

Cayman Automotive has partnered with Lindsay Scott’s LAS Development to ensure that electric cars brought on island will not depend solely on fossil fuel-generated electricity. LAS is selling solar-powered chargers to owners of electric cars.

Pre-discount, the car costs CI$26,581. While Mr. Felder did not want to reveal the exact size of the discount, he assured that it was ‘substantial’. The car, and four others are currently in Miami, awaiting shipping to Cayman once buyers have been lined up.

‘There is a lot of interest in electric cars and solar energy in Cayman,’ said Mr. Felder.

‘People want to drive electric cars. The only thing slowing progress is the government. It needs to approve the licence. Once it does that, I think there’ll be an explosion of interest in the usage of electric cars.’

Once the traffic law is changed, Androgroup will use the car to make trips from its headquarters in Breezy Way to George Town and Grand Harbour and other locations across the island. ‘We have a lot of small vehicles we use for running around,’ Mr. Roffey said. ‘At the moment, we can’t use the electric car on public roads, but we’re confident that’s going to change.’

Even after the law is changed, the car, manufactured by Zenn Motors in Toronto, Canada, would not be allowed on roads with speed limits of 40 or 50 miles an hour because its top speed is 35 miles an hour.

Mr. Roffey said the company would erect solar panels on its roof for the charging station.

Cayman Automotive had earlier put another electric car, this time from Global Electric Motorcars, up for auction in the annual Rotary Club of Grand Cayman Camelot auction. Dart Realty Ltd. bought the car for $16,500 and it is now being used for security detail in Camana Bay. Because Camana Bay is private property, the car can be used on the roads and car park there.

The Zenn cars, which unlike the GEM vehicle, have air conditioning, can also be powered up simply by plugging them into an ordinary household socket.

‘All you need is an extension cord and you can power the battery,’ Mr. Felder said. ‘It uses standard 110 volts current.’

Using CUC electricity to power the car, it costs $1 per charge to fully power the vehicle, Mr. Felder said.

A single full charge lasts for 40 miles, but if the car runs low on power while the driver is out shopping or at the cinema, Mr. Felder has a plan in place. He said he has been in talks with Foster’s, Hurley’s, CUC and Camana Bay to erect charging stations at outlets throughout Cayman.