More electric car charging stations to open this month

An electric-vehicle charging station will open at the Kaibo Restaurant and Marina later this month, followed by similar facilities at the new Barcam Esso station near Lantern Point, at the Westin resort and at West Bay’s Hell.

All of the stations will be free.

The new stations will rapidly be followed by more installations at the five Foster’s Food Fairs in Grand Cayman, starting with the outlet near the airport.

The $1,500 cost of each station is shared equally by electric vehicle distributor Cayman Automotive and local insurer Island Heritage, which joined funding efforts at the March launch of the Caribbean’s first gasoline-electric station at Lorna’s Rubis in Bodden Town.

“We hope to get moving on these in the next week,” said Cayman Automotive founder John Felder. “Kaibo will be first, open by the last week of the month.”

The new installations will bring to 13 the number of charging stations, and will cover Grand Cayman from the Rum Point area to West Bay.

The Kaibo operation will be the second joint gasoline-electric station, and the first at a restaurant, Mr. Felder said, driving business to the waterside bar and restaurant.

The second charging station will be at the new Barcam Esso near Lantern Point, which just opened earlier this year.

Part-owner Stefan Baraud, who shares the operation with Peter Campbell, said, “We see the market growing for EVs, and that requires an infrastructure. If we can be only a small part helping to develop that, it’s a good thing.

“We want to find where we can help to go ‘green,’ and see a good in developing this new market and its commercial viability.”

Barcam “top-ups” are also free, Mr. Baraud said, explaining that the business cost of supplying power is “nominal, like the price of a small cup of coffee.”

Third on Mr. Felder’s list is the Westin Grand Cayman Seven Mile Beach Resort & Spa, which will install two charging stations, one by the main hotel and the other across the street at its new Sunshine Suites partner – acquired with the Westin by a U.S.-based corporation in October.

Westin General Manager Morty Valldejuli pointed out that the hotels have also acquired two solar-panel-equipped, 14-passenger electric buses, which will be used initially to move guests between the hotels.

“They look a little bit like golf carts on steroids,” Mr. Valldejuli said, “and are one of a kind, I think, in the Caribbean.” Cuba has at least one other solar-panel, open-sided bus.

Mr. Valldejuli said the Westin “is doing our part and lowering our carbon footprint.”

He said the two charging stations “are for the general public. Anyone with an electric vehicle can use them free of charge. We’re doing our part to be green. Everyone has a responsibility, and we want to be good neighbors.”

The final May installation will be at “the Devil’s Hangout,” at Hell in West Bay.

Longtime head of the operation, Ivan Farrington, said, “Everyone is going green, and I am doing my part. Electric vehicles are here to stay, and John Felder wanted to put something at this end of the island, so I said ‘go ahead, use my place.’” A West Bay station has long been in place at the Cayman Motor Museum, but the Hell installation, also free, is near churches and schools.

Each station is a “level 2” facility, offering one-hour “fast charge” top-ups to 80 percent on a 220-volt system employing a top-of-the-line J-1772 connector linking the charger to the car. The one-hour charge enables a driver to travel 20 miles, Mr. Felder said. A full charge requires eight hours.

A “level 1” station provides only a “trickle charge,” and a “level 3” station supplies a full charge at 240 volts in a single hour, but at significant cost.
Covering Grand Cayman

With the four new stations and another five – possibly seven – planned in the next year, Mr. Felder said, “We have pretty much maxed out the numbers for a small island.”

However, should demand prove greater than the stations can manage, he said, “Each one can be converted to handle two, or even four EVs, so we can change what we can handle over time.”

Mr. Felder said Cayman’s EV fleet is growing steadily, although numbers remain relatively modest.

“In the next 60 days,” he said, “we will be in the mid-40s, and we’ll have more than 50 by the end of the year.”

Cayman Automotive already offers EVs from six manufacturers, the most popular of which is the Nissan’s Leaf. Mr. Felder recently added Tesla’s Model S, and this month will take delivery of the highly stylized gull-wing Model X SUV.

In 2017, he will augment his Tesla fleet with the Model 3, the Seattle-based company’s first mid-price EV, pegged at $35,000.

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  1. This is very encouraging, however, just a couple of concerns.
    Most of the electric vehicles for sale currently in Grand Cayman suffer from a flaw. They do not have a/c. Which is pretty much essential today.
    I also notice the location of some of these charging stations. To get a one-hour charge, one obviously needs to park the car there for an hour. Certainly, no problem at Kaibo. And I suppose one could spend an hour grocery shopping. Not sure about putting them at gas stations unless the car owner has something else to do.
    But overall an excellent step in the right direction.