Many people claim to want to make Cayman a greener, better place to live. But how many back up their words with actions?
Cayman Automotive is setting an example not just for other Cayman residents but for the entire Caribbean in striving for a more environmentally responsible future, committing to the use of alternative, renewable energy sources and less dependence on fossil fuels.
“Today starts a revolution,” announced John Felder, president of Cayman Automotive, at the recent unveiling of the prototype for a Solar Panel Charging Station for Electric Vehicles, the first of which will be located at Governors Square.
The company, which specialises in sales and leasing of new and pre-owned US-manufactured vehicles was the first in the Caribbean to introduce electric vehicles, bringing the Chevrolet Volt, a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle to the Cayman Islands earlier this year.
Alongside importing electric-powered vehicles, Mr. Felder has been working with a team of energy management experts to establish a network of charging stations for electric vehicles throughout Grand Cayman.
Once the legislation is in place to make 100 per cent electric vehicles legal on Cayman’s roads, it is hoped that the necessary infrastructure to make electric vehicles the obvious choice, will be ready to go.
The first charging station will have two parking spaces and uses a modular design with solar panels built as a canopy above the parking spaces.
When not being used to charge vehicles, power generated by the solar panels will be fed back into the CUC grid, and when there is insufficient sunlight to charge batteries, additional power can be drawn from the grid.
Charging time at the Level 2 charging station will take four to six hours, significantly less than a level 1 domestic charger, which would take 10 to 12 hours to fully charge an electric car.
A network of 14 such stations are planned for Grand Cayman, strategically located in areas with retail stores and businesses such as Camana Bay, Foster’s West Bay and the Strand, and Hurley’s.
Further east, charging stations are planned for the Reef Resort and Kaibo.
Vehicle owners will be able to shop, go to work, dine out or even enjoy the beach while their vehicle is being charged, as well as never being out of range of a charging station. At the same time it is hoped that the location of the stations will help boost trade for local businesses.
Best of all, there will be no charge for using these charging stations.
Mr. Felder has been working for the past six years to bring electric vehicles to the Cayman Islands. Early electric vehicles were not commercially viable due to their slow speeds and short ranges.
Improved technology means that these problems are in large part being overcome and all the 100 per cent electric vehicles now being offered have passed the U.S. Safety and Crash Tests standards.
The first Chevrolet Volt is already on island and, under current legislation, because it has a gasoline engine in addition to the electric motor, can legally be registered and driven on Cayman roads now. CUC has purchased the first of these.
Mr Felder is offering customers a free level 2 charger, including installation, when they purchase a Chevrolet Volt or any electric vehicles being offered..
Later this year, Cayman Automotive plans to bring in two smaller, more economical electric vehicles, the Italian-made Tazzari Zero and the US-manufactured Wheego. Both are 100 per cent electric, with top speeds of 65 mph and have a range of 100 miles on a single charge.
The introduction of the first solar-powered charging station in the Caribbean is the result of a collaboration between various Caymanian and U.S. businesses (Cayman Automotive, Corporate Electric, U-Go Stations, Inc.) and the US based G.E. Corporation, all of whom have contributed their expertise to help move the Cayman Islands towards a greener tomorrow.