Although the Cayman Islands government has not approved changes in local law that would allow for fully electric-powered cars, plans are being drawn up to construct a network of electric charging stations to service those vehicles
Cayman Automotive President John Felder said earlier this month that a number of sites for the charging stations have been proposed and that his business is working with Caribbean Utilities Company to ensure the sites can be effective.
According a map of the proposed sites given to the Caymanian Compass, two of the stations are proposed for West Bay, three along Seven Mile Beach, one at Camana Bay, three in George Town, one in Savannah, one in East End and one in North Side.
Mr. Felder said other sites have been proposed as well and that he eventually hopes Grand Cayman will house a dozen such charging stations.
Admittedly, several things must happen before Grand Cayman gets to this point, including revisions to the Traffic Law to allow for the vehicles to be used on local roads. Right now, certain electric powered vehicles cannot be registered in Cayman because they can’t go fast enough. Also, some models only travel 40-50 miles on a charge.
But Mr. Felder said two new electric vehicles his company is planning to bring in can travel at top speeds of between 65 and 85 miles per hour and can go up to 100 miles on a charge.
He said Cayman Automotive has already received approval to begin selling the vehicles in Bermuda, and he has plans to do the same in Jamaica and Bahamas. “In fact, Bermuda has already approved me to sell electric cars, zero duty,” he said. “They’re the first one. In Bermuda [the speed limit] is 35 miles per hour island-wide. They want electric cars.”
Premier McKeeva Bush has said he would ask government to consider a duty reduction for the importation of electric vehicles.
“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. The Volt was sold to CUC, but Mr. Felder said it would not be his “bread and butter” car when it comes to selling electric vehicles in Cayman.
The two vehicles Mr. Felder plans to bring in, the Wheego Life and Tazzari Electric, are 100 per cent electric powered. He hopes the charging station network planned to support them will be the first of its kind in the Caribbean.
“When it’s finished…putting in the charging stations from Kaibo to West Bay, it’s going to help every [auto] dealer on this Island,” Mr. Felder said. “Of course, I’m going to let [other auto dealers] use the stations, but they’re going to pay me.”
Mr. Felder also hopes the charging stations will be a boon to local businesses that have them on their premises.
“Places like Camana Bay and Kaibo and Governors Square and Foster’s…it’s good for them,” he said. “Because when you take your electric car there, you’re not going to sit there and watch it charge, you’re going to spend some money.”
Chief Officer for the Ministry of Works Kearney Gomez has said that changes to Cayman’s Traffic Law allowing 100 per cent electric-powered vehicles to be used on Cayman roads will come before lawmakers later this year.
Mr. Felder said he expected the legal amendments to be similar to those in the United States that allow lower speed electric cars to be used as “neighbourhood vehicles” that cannot go on high-speed thoroughfares. Higher-speed electric vehicles would be approved for use on local roads, he expected.