Import duty break on electric cars nears

Felder: Six charging stations ready by September 2014

Slowly but surely, Grand Cayman is working its way toward an island-wide electric car charging system.  

The problem now: More drivers need to go electric to make it financially viable.  

Cayman Automotive President John Felder, the only seller of 100 per cent electric-powered vehicles on the island, said he has recently received word that help is on the way.  

Possibly as early as next month, an updated Customs Tariff Law could allow import duty rate on 100 per cent electric-powered cars to be reduced from 22 per cent to 10 per cent. The duty for hybrid electric-gas vehicles would also be reduced from 22 per cent to 15 per cent.  

That reduction is on top of a 10 per cent duty cut for electric vehicle imports approved by former Premier McKeeva Bush’s government in 2012.  

The only thing holding up the import duty reduction, according to Financial Secretary Ken Jefferson, is the implementation of a computer tracking system for the much more complex Customs Tariff Law approved by lawmakers.  

“I was told previously that the refinements being made to the new computer system are expected to be completed by September 2013,” Mr. Jefferson wrote in an email to Mr. Felder last month. “That is the approximate time frame that I expect the new Customs Tariff Law to be brought into effect.”  

Mr. Jefferson included some business advice: “It would, however, be sensible to advise your potential customers to hold off importing the electric vehicles until after the new law has been brought into effect – otherwise, they will face the currently higher import duty rates that are linked to the value of the vehicle and not the type of vehicle.”  

Speaking at his George Town office last week, Mr. Felder agreed. He said, as of Thursday, there were only 12 fully electric-powered vehicles licensed to drive on Grand Cayman roadways. If Mr. Felder’s plan implements six fully operational electric car charging stations around the island by the third quarter of 2014, and no one else buys electric cars, “We’ll have 50 per cent [station] coverage for those vehicles!” Mr. Felder joked. 

However, he does not believe that will be the case. “The 10 per cent [overall] import duty is going to make a big, big difference,” he said. “That will drop the total price for some of these cars under $30,000.”  

Planning for the future, Mr. Felder is working on the establishment of electric car charging stations. At this point, two are open – one at Camana Bay and the second at the Cayman Islands Motor Museum in West Bay.  

Two other charging stations are under construction, one at the Governors Square complex and another at the Crighton Properties building, which houses Cayman Automotive.  

Two more stations are in the planning stages at Kaibo Beach and at East End’s Reef Resort.  

“We wanted to make sure every area of Grand Cayman has an electric car charging station,” Mr. Felder said.  

Eventually, the plan is to expand to a 14-station charging network in Grand Cayman, but that will require more consumer interest, Mr. Felder said.  

“These electric vehicles are more expensive [than the common gas-powered car],” he said. “But we’ve got to do something to get rid of our dependence on foreign oil and clean up the environment.”  


John Felder, owner of Cayman Automotive, Photo: File


  1. I talked to some guy at Electric car stand at some of environmental exhibitions. The impression I’ve got was that those electric cars are some kind of perpetum mobile, because I was told that for a tiny fraction of electricity cost I can run for a long time and save a lot on my gas bills.
    I know, that in real life ignorance is the word which generally goes with knowledge and logic, but I’d like to point out again a few facts:

    a) again nothing in told about charging with use of solar generated electricity. The charging station I see everyday in Camana Bay does not seems to be connected to any kind of solar panels. Maybe I am wrong. Without using solar panels the whole idea of electical cars in Cayman is illogical non-sense. So please-please, everytime you talk about electic cars first state that this is solar powered charging stations you are going to build.

    b) for those who wants to get some background and knowledge before putting thumbs down to this comment, follow these calculations. I am taking Nissan Leaf as example (probably not the worst electric car):

    Fully charged battery – 24 kW per hour
    Fully charged range – 135 km (84 mi)
    Both numbers from wikipedia page for Nissan Leaf.

    Looking through Tesla-users forums gives estimate of electricity lost during charge of battery at 20-25%, let’s take 20%, so, having drawn 24*1.2 = 29 kW per hour from the Grid, Nissan Leaf runs for 135 km (84 mi).

    Next, visit wikipedia page for diesel generation, which gives the following information:

    Specific consumption varies, but a modern diesel plant will consume between 0.28 and 0.4 litres of fuel per kilowatt hour at the generator terminals

    We have to add power loss in the Grid, which can be as high as 10%, but I’ll skip this point for now, let’s pretend that whatever is produced at CUC gets to the power outlet (which is wrong assumption).

    This gives us the following estimate:
    8.12 – 11.6 liters per 135 km (84 mi), or on average 32 MPG for those who prefers this measure. Not that bad, but modern gas-run cars have much better MPG, in range of 50-60.

    So – I my advise to Mr. Felder and editorial is to mention word solar at least once in any article related to electric cars.

    Also electric cars should be allowed for import only under condition that they are predominantly charged by solar generated power. Hopefully this is going to be the case.

  2. The government would make the logical place to begin the program. As new cars are needed, the government should replace the existing fleet of passenger vehicles with electric cars.

    This would help the construction of electric fueling stations. The point that they be solar powered makes even more sense. As the power conversion always requires some energy, the loss of a free source of energy would make no difference.

    A complete removal of the duty on fully electric cars and a drop in the duty of hybrids are preferable to reduced duties for each.

  3. Truly, is there a sillier place in the world for electric cars than Cayman? With the highest electric prices in the Western Hemisphere, inefficient piston-run generators gulping premium diesel fuel, this just doesn’t make financial sense.

    Perhaps these prospective electric car buyers are prescient however; preparing for the day when the Bodden Town landfill will produce captive methane (landfill gas with no odors) which is burned to produce power in competition with Carribbean Utilities!

    Hmm, maybe I should place an order!

Comments are closed.