Electric car seller shut down at DVL

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In March 2011, John Felder was riding high.  

“This has been a five-year journey,” Mr. Felder said outside the Grand Cayman Department of Vehicle and Drivers Licensing. “This is like a dream come true.”  

The statement was made just after Mr. Felder – the owner of Cayman Automotive – had gotten his first Chevrolet Volt vehicle licensed by the department for use on Cayman’s roads. The mainly electric-powered vehicle that utilises a small amount of gas was seen as a forerunner of what was to come: Completely electric-powered vehicles on the roads of Grand Cayman for the first time.  

More than a year later, the veteran car salesman’s dream is deferred. He hopes it won’t be denied.  

“I’ve got five people that want to buy this vehicle, and I can’t sell it,” Mr. Felder said, this time at the vehicle licensing department 
on Wednesday.  

He was trying to register the 100 per cent electric Mercedes 2010 AMP MLe and couldn’t do it. Department 
personnel who inspected the vehicle – which can travel up to 95 miles per hour and goes 125 miles on a charge – said they couldn’t 
register it.  

They declined to provide a reason in writing, but staffers referred to the fact that a new Traffic Law, which allows for electric-powered vehicles to be driven on Cayman roads, hasn’t been given an effective date yet.  

Regulations for the Traffic Law are still being drafted. The Caymanian Compass has not been given any date for when those might be approved or take effect.  

Mr. Felder said he has been given legal advice that the old Traffic Law, parts of which remain operational until the new law is passed, allows for electric-powered cars to be driven on local roads. Government officials have repeatedly said the previous law did not allow for that.  

“I’m going to ask for a judicial review,” Mr. Felder said, indicating that since the passage of the new Traffic Law, he has imported five fully electric-powered vehicles that his company is unable to sell.  

“When the governor signed [the new Traffic Law] in November … I heard a word that I was not familiar with, called ‘regulations’,” Mr. Felder said. The law won’t take full effect until the regulations are approved by Cabinet, he was told.  

That means electric vehicle sales can’t happen, unless Mr. Felder gets a court to say they are allowed under the old law.  

He wrote to Deputy Director of Vehicle Licensing Richard Simms on Wednesday:  

“The AMP MLe is one of the safest vehicles in the world … Based on the wording of the current roads law, I cannot see any reasons why this vehicle, which has a top speed of 95 mph, a horn, new tyres, turn signal indicators, five air bags and back up lights all in working order cannot be registered and licensed.”  

Mr. Felder asked for a particular reason why the vehicle could not be registered.  

No response had been received by press time Thursday.  

 

Traffic Law delay 

Officials with the Ministry of Works, which has overall responsibility for the Traffic Law and which led efforts to revamp the law last year, told the Compass earlier this year that changes to the law will take place.  

The main hold-up, according to officials, is that regulations to accompany the law must be approved by Cabinet in order for most of the changes in the law to come into force. 

“The regulations are being drafted and proofread now,” according to an earlier statement from the ministry. “Once complete, it will be taken to Cabinet for consideration.  

Pending approval by Cabinet, the law and regulations will be brought into effect very shortly.” 

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Denied! John Felder says his new electric-powered SUV is still not allowed on Cayman’s roads. – Photo: Brent Fuller

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The AMP SLe gets inspected on Wednesday. – Photo: Brent Fuller

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Cayman Automotive owner John Felder checks under the hood of his $77,000 electric-powered SUV. – Photo: Brent Fuller
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22 COMMENTS

  1. Another clear example of an alternative solution (electric cars, wind power, solar power) that will lose the government revenue being tied up in political red tape.
    6/gallon gas and 600 utility bills.. they are not going to give that up…

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  2. So now wew need a law to allow this man to sell environmentally friendly vehicles. We shoot ourselves in the foot so many times.

    Also these vehicles don’t travel fast enough to keep up on our highways where drunk driving is a way of life and speeding is just as common.

    If I sound cynical, I am being exactly that in this case.

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  3. Good news.
    At least somebody in the government can resist stupid Oh, electrical vehicle? That’s really cool! hype and understand that without significant changes to the way electricity generated in Cayman Islands, all-electric vehicles will burn twice the amount of diesel at CUC compared to conventional car and will make double harm to environment.

    If somebody wants to buy electrical car in Cayman he/she should provide some evidence that only solar panels will be used to charge it. Otherwise it makes zero sense.

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  4. Oh now I got it….the DVL thinks the vehicle has to be plugged in all the time, and someone may trip over the power cable. So that would be a Health and Safety issue….!!! There, solved it.

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  5. The first thing I would do is to ask for a refund on the duty paid for those car. That would hurt the government and may get things moving quicker. Also, it is important to note that less energy is less duty fees. If you think about it, the sun and the wind are not really appreciated by governments.

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  6. Stan, what is it exactly you are saying? Explain. Because how I see it, government shouldnt have had a law in the first place, baning any powered-type vehicle. It seems to me that the ban is in place because some few in the private sector dont like it.

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  7. Stan, did you see the story about the solar powered charging system trialled last year? The technology to charge these cars in a ‘green’ fashion is very accessible.

    Perhaps we could charge the vehicles off your feelings of self-satisfaction, these cars would go forever!

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  8. 2 Pattieman

    That would be a good thing. But I haven’t seen Mr. Felder talking about that. He is more I want to sell it don’t care how it works type of guy.

    After some googling I see what you talk about and yes, it is good. The day I see first station constructed I will be voting for giving those cars a chance.

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  9. 2 Apprentice

    Explanation is simple – government should not allow actions which hurt economy/people/environment. Unless we 100% certain that these vehicles will be charged using solar/wind power, they should not be brought in. Because this will hurt environment and people.

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  10. Just drive the cars, I will pay for your first ticket. Then hopefully others will follow. Put a sign on it stating something like This car is the most energy efficient in the Cayman Islands, help us getting it approved. To send money, here is my P.O. Box That should make a lot of publicity for you. Having police car with lights ON arresting you in Cayman where every drivers slow down to see what is happening.

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  11. gotta love how unquestioning our people can be about certain things… and then the second someone tries to do something that’s good for the environment everyone seems to have something to say or ask.

    where was this kind of civil discourse when it was announced that 500K in government funds was spent paving private parking lots in the Brac? or when it was announced that we have government agencies submitting unauditable accounts?

    the truth is that that traffic law NEEDS to be passed. it has been on the back burner for years. that piece of legislation could save lives by implementing a more structured learner driver programme.

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  12. Another classic example of government bureaucrats throwing up road blocks wherever they can. Not a single person in government has any interest in helping the public who are in essence, their customers. They could never survive in the real world (aka private sector.)

    If this vehicle is completely road worthy, head lights, break lights, indicators, horn, wipers, etc. there is no reason why it should not be licensed. But instead of licensing the vehicle as they should have, some career civil servant who barely passed John Grey High School and probably weighs 300lbs (most likely), decided to go on a power trip and have some fun. Let’s come up with a reason why it CAN’T be licensed. Oww wait, what was their reason again? That’s right, they can’t give one!

    It’s a crying shame b/c cars like this are ideal for Cayman. Slow driving speeds, short daily commutes, warm weather conditions, high cost or gasoline, and the list goes on. Stan’s comments that it burns more diesel to create the electricity to charge the car than it would to operate a standard gas vehicle are complete rubbish. Talk about reaching, he’s probably a lawyer or works for government. Even if the vehicle needs a dedicated circuit with a 30amp – 50amp breaker, (which it probably does) it’s still the equivalent to a standard household appliance like a dryer or water heater. Comparing that to a vehicle that burns 15mpg is complete stupidity.

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  13. Mr. Felder,
    Drive your cars on the road, get pulled over by the police and force the issue with the courts otherwise, as has been said by many, you will become a victim of bureaucracy. It is ridiculous that the new Roads law is still awaiting approval. The law is sensible, has been approved by all appropriately informed people but now seems to have been stalled because some politicians can’t get up off their duff and sign the law into being. What’s to consider, apart from the saving of people’s lives so they don’t get mown down by twerps babbling or texting on their cell phones.
    Wake up and smell the sensibility of the situation and save a few more of your (potential) voters lives.

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  14. THIS TOPIC WILL PUT US IN THE MAP, BUT I WONDER WHAT KIND OF PUBLICITY AND MESSAGE THE OUTSIDE WORLD WOULD PERCIEVE. THIS IS THE KIND OF NEWS THAT MAKES IT AROUND THE WORLD IN A MATTER OF MINUTES! SO SIMPLE AND THE GOVERNMENT IS MAKING A HUGE DEAL OUT OF IT!!!

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Comments are closed.