Electric cars set for Cuba trade show, export

John Felder’s project to supply Cuba with its first electric vehicles has taken another step forward as he readies his products for the annual Havana trade show in October. 

The founder of Cayman Automotive said he will ship three electric vehicles to Havana for the autumn show, immediately followed in November by the delivery of other electrical cars in Cayo Largo, a popular eco-tourist island off the south coast of the country, 50 miles from the capital. 

“I’ll be taking three vehicles with me” to Havana, Mr. Felder said. “A 14-passenger bus, a small commercial truck and a Nissan Leaf.” 

None of the three is likely to be among as many as 10 contracted vehicles set to serve the Cayo Largo tourist trade, he said. Citing proprietary restraints, Mr. Felder declined to name the make and model of the chosen cars. 

Initially signed in March last year, the Cayo Largo deal came as a result of contacts between Mr. Felder and Cuba’s Ministry of Industry. The project seeks to reduce Cuba’s dependence on imported oil, especially from Venezuela, and will be a testing ground for nationwide adoption of electric vehicles. 

Vital to the experiment will be creation of a network of solar charging stations, one or two on Cayo Largo, then on three smaller nearby islands, followed, Felder hopes, by construction across the Cuban mainland. 

Saskatchewan-based Sun Country Highway, with a network of 1,000 charging stations across Canada, will build the Cuban facilities, using locally made solar panels. 

Mr. Felder owns eight charging stations across Grand Cayman, two of them built by Sun Country. A bare-essential charging facility can be created in a matter of hours at modest cost, he said. 

The Canadian company, he said, “will be with me at the trade show, and will do all the charging stations, all the infrastructure, everything.” Also with him will be U.S. electric vehicle manufacturer Star Electric. 

The Cuban government, he says, will purchase the Cayo Largo electric vehicles and the charging stations “for cash.” Ultimately, he envisions “hundreds of charging stations” across the country, as demand is boosted by growing numbers of U.S. tourists, particularly after Washington opens a new embassy at the end of July. 

He expects more than 100,000 attendees at the weeklong gathering, and, beyond that, anticipates significant expansion of trade in the wake of the inauguration of the U.S. diplomatic mission 

“We are on our way,” he said. “The embassy will open and an ambassador be named and the trade show will be the first time a U.S. flag will be displayed.” 

John Felder powers up one of his electric cars. – Photo: Stephen Clarke