Cayman Automotive and Island Heritage make electric cars in Cayman a reality

Read our article in the Cayman Financial Review Magazine, eversion 

After seven years of research, negotiation, lobbying and collaboration on the part of Cayman Automotive, 100 per cent electric vehicles will finally be legally cruising up and down Cayman’s roads by April 2012.

It’s been a long process on the part of John Felder, CEO of Cayman Automotive, to reach this point, but one that he has persevered with, driven by his desire to build a greener future for Cayman by not only reducing dependence on fossil fuels, but also to reducing pollution associated with gas combustion engines.  Cayman Automotive, which specialises in sales and leasing of new and pre-owned US manufactured vehicles was the first company in the Caribbean to introduce electric vehicles.

It was not a simple matter of importing the vehicles and selling them on island, however. In order to make electric cars a realistic proposition, it was necessary not only to lobby to get legislation changed to make such vehicles legal, but also to ensure the underlying infrastructure was in place to support them.  One of the stumbling blocks with the earlier generation of electric vehicles was
their limited speed and range. Many neighbourhood electric vehicles could only travel 40 to 50 miles on a charge and their top speeds were not sufficient to make them safe to drive on main thoroughfares.

Technology has improved significantly however and Cayman Automotive is now pleased to offer a number of 100 per cent electric cars, all of which have passed the US government’s safety and crash test standards and have highways speeds in excess of 75mph. Many can be driven up to 100 miles on a single charge.  Residents of the Cayman Islands can now choose from the Wheego, Tazzari Zero, Amp electric vehicles and Think City plugin cars imported by Cayman Automotive.

John Felder has been working in collaboration with experts from Corporate Electric, U-Go-Station-Cayman and the US-based Eaton Corporation to ensure the underlying infrastructure is in place to allow electric vehicle owners to charge their cars at various locations throughout Grand Cayman. A network of 14 solar powered charging stations is planned, some of which will be free
to use and some of which will charge a fee.

Charging stations will be set up at key locations with retail stores and businesses, so that owners can go to work, shop, dine out or even enjoy the beach while their vehicle is being charged.  

Charging stations will be both level two (requiring four to six hours to fully charge batteries) and level three (20-30 minutes charge time).  Additionally Cayman Automotive is offering customers a free level two home charger, including installation, when they purchase an electric vehicle.

In November 2011 Governor Duncan Taylor signed the revised Cayman Islands Traffic Law, which among other changes, made provision for both neighbourhood electric vehicles and electric-powered cars to be driven on Cayman Islands roads alongside gas-powered cars. 

The final piece in the puzzle of making electric vehicles a legal alternative to gasoline and diesel fuelled vehicles, was the passing of the Motor Vehicle Insurance (Third Party Risk) Amendment Bill 2011 which enables electric vehicles travelling on public roads to be insured. 

When Island Heritage was approached by Cayman Automotive with the opportunity to help make the dream of electric cars on Cayman roads a reality, Island Heritage eagerly accepted. As a leader in the insurance industry they saw this as a chance offer peace of mind to the consumers of the future and to be key players in ensuring these vehicles can hit the road without the lingering doubt about being able to meet the statutory requirement of insurance.

“It is not often an insurer can find itself a part of a historic event and Island Heritage is honoured to share the spotlight on such a momentous occasion for the community. Island Heritage shares
Cayman Automotive’s commitment to building a greener tomorrow and to supporting automotive advancement and is proud to be the insurer of choice for Cayman Automotive’s range of electric vehicles.”

Evelyn Tibbetts-Farrar of Island Heritage.
Island Heritage