Premier wants duty reduction on electric cars

Just before taking a ride
in a new Chevrolet Volt Friday, Cayman Islands Premier McKeeva Bush said he
would ask Cabinet to consider reduction import duties charged to
electric-powered vehicles.

The Volt – a vehicle run
mainly on electric power and the first of its kind to be registered as
roadworthy in Cayman – was brought in by Cayman Automotive President John Felder
and sold to Caribbean Utilities Company, who plan to use it as a green-energy
marketing tool.

“When someone makes this
kind of effort…I believe government ought to put our best foot forward and offer
something,” Mr. Bush said, adding that he would like to see the import duty of
42 per cent that would normally be paid for the US $58,000 Chevy Volt reduced to ten per cent.

Attempting to bring
electric-powered vehicles to Cayman has been something of a quest over the past
five years for Mr. Felder, and to a certain extent, he still hasn’t achieved it.

Sitting next to the Chevy
Volt at the George Town Department of Vehicles and Licensing office Friday was
another smaller car – the Zenn Electric – was parked without licence or tags.
That vehicle, a 100 per cent electric-powered vehicle is still not considered
roadworthy in Cayman. The Volt, which uses petrol to keep its engine charged, is
allowed and was actually registered Friday when Premier Bush took it through the
inspection pit.

The difference is that
the Volt can go faster and travel much further than the Zenn, which is more
limited in the distances it can drive and the maximum speeds it can attain.

“With the Zenn…you plug
it into a wall and it will go 40 miles on a charge,” Mr. Felder said. “{The
Volt] has extended range technology, it has a little gas engine the powers the
generator even though [it’s] the electric engine that’s driving the vehicle all
the time.”

Chief officer of the
Ministry of Works Kearney Gomez said Friday that changes to Cayman’s Traffic Law
expected to be brought to the Legislative Assembly by June will allow the 100 per cent electric-powered vehicles to be used in Cayman.

Mr. Felder said he
expected the legal amendments to be similar to those in the United States that
allow electric cars to be used as “neighbourhood vehicles” that cannot go on
high-speed thoroughfares.

He’s eagerly awaiting the

“Last night I couldn’t
sleep….this has been a five-year journey,” Mr. Felder said. “This is like a
dream come true. But this is not for me; it’s for you, it’s for the Cayman Islands.”

Premier Bush said
electric and hybrid vehicle importation was quite timely, especially with gas
prices in the US expected to reach US$5 per gallon
this summer.

“Just [Friday] morning,
the newspaper is saying it can go to as high as eight, seven dollars somewhere
around there,” he said, referring to Cayman Islands petrol prices, which are
currently hovering just above CI$5 per gallon for regular unleaded.

Please see more on this
story in next week’s editions of the Caymanian Compass…


  1. Premier, how about duty reduction across the board for everything! Not just for dart, not just for shetty… but to reduce the cost of living!

  2. I dont understand how well-educated, intelligent people can seriously talk about such thing as electric cars in Cayman. Let me explain:

    Electric car is charged using electricity. Electricity is produced by burning diesel fuel (here in Cayman). So electrical car in Cayman is the same as gas-powered car with difference being a) electrical car uses diesel generator at CUC instead of its own engine b) electricity needs to be transported to the outlet to charge the car.

    Now lets do some math.

    Efficiency factor is % of energy burned inside the engine which sucessfully transforms into useful action – for car its mainly movement.

    Efficiency factor of average road cars engine is believed to be around 20-25%.

    Efficiency factor of diesel generator in CUC is the same 20-25%. Just because this is maximum achievable by diesel generators / car engines, which are based on combustition power.

    So only 25% of energy contained in gas actually used to move your car. I hope it is not news to you.

    What about electrical car? Diesel generator at CUC will give you 25%. Then electricity needs to be transferred to your home. It means loss of 5-10% energy. Then it needs to be absorbed by battery of your electrical car. Charging bettery usually takes away 30-35% of energy is lost. Then electrical engine itself has efficiency ratio of 80-90%. Much better than gas engine, but:

    total efficiency ratio – 0.25 * 0.9 * 0.65 * 0.9 = 13%.

    Feel the difference – 13% vs 25%. It means that for each gallon of fuel burnt by normal road car, CUC will have to burn two gallons to make your electrical car go the same distance.

    Also if you dont use your car, your battery slowly loses charge. Should I say that with normal car you gas can stay in your tank for ages?

    So, electrical cars are ABSOLUTE non-sense in areas where only diesel generated electricity exists.

    Why then electrical cars are gaining momentum in other countries? ok, here some reasons:

    – other countries have electricity produced by coal, nuclear, hydro plants, which changes the equatation. Not relevant for Cayman.

    – electrical cars help to shift ecological effect – instead of spreading exhaust gases all over the city, you can concentrate it at power stations area. Not relevant for Cayman, thanks to wind constantly blowing fresh air from the sea.

    So what??? Why lowering custom tariffs??

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