Electric cars no-go but 3 wheelers roll on out

| 24/11/2010

(CNS): Although government has still not changed the law to allow any of the diverse range of modern electric cars on Cayman’s roads, electric three wheelers, with considerably less safety features, are legal. A recent advertisement on a local website for a 3 wheel Zap has served to highlight the anomaly in the country’s road laws. The Zap has been approved by the Cayman Islands government because it is classified as a tricycle or motorcycle. However, electric cars with all their wheels as well as green credentials, which are in some cases almost indistinguishable from regular vehicles, are still a no-go. (Photos: Left a Fisker HT is not allowed on Cayman’s roads  while the Zap shown below is)

The Zebra Sedan which is currently being advertised on Ecay-online has a top speed of 40 mph and no airbags, which is why it cannot be sold in the US or Canada, but it is legal here and can be driven on all of the country’s roads.

Despite the fact that a number of dealers and drivers in Cayman have been lobbying for years to get government to sanction four wheel electric cars on Cayman’s roads, which are increasingly difficult to differentiate between the regular gas guzzling cars that currently clog Cayman’s highways, the government has still not passed the necessary laws.

John Felder of Cayman Automotive, who has been campaigning for more than four years, has virtually abandoned his plans to sell the latest electric vehicles in Cayman and turned his attention to Bermuda and Jamaica, where legislation was approved last year to allow the use of electric cars on their roads. Felder had been poised to establish the first charging stations for electric the vehicles here. However, he recently told CNS that, given the lack of political will to start the green revolution on Cayman’s roads, he was concentrating on selling electric vehicles where green cars were being taking seriously.

Although he is not giving up on Cayman’s law makers eventually doing the right thing, he said Bermuda was poised to become the model for the Caribbean when it comes to electric vehicles — which could have been Cayman.

Government told CNS in July that it was ready to bring the necessary legislation to the Legislative Assembly in September but it recently revealed that it would now be sometime in 2011 before the traffic law would be amended.

Although people often associate electric vehicles simply with Neighbourhood Electric Vehicles, which look like golf carts, the reality is that electric cars have a come a long way. There are new classifications of electric vehicles with a top speed of over 40mph and many have airbags, A/C, and meet NIHTSA crash test safety standards. The new Fisker HT, which will be available in Cayman next year (even if it can’t drive on the roads) looks a lot more like a racing car than a golf cart and can go from 0-60mph in less than 6 seconds. With no gas, no oil and no pollution, it is truly part of the green revolution which, so far, Cayman is failing to embrace.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    The Zap vehicles are certified by the US Department of Transportation for urban/suburban usage but are not highway approved. They are capable of up to 40 mph which meets or exceeds most local speed limits. The Zap was extensively and rigorously tested by a local insurance company and satisfied all their safety requirements, including a strenuous stability test. Size-wise the Zap is identical to the Chery and approximately the same size as the Chevy Spark, both of which are quite popular on our roads.

    Ultimately, the Zap is legal in the Cayman Islands and insurable, and offers a viable zero emission alternative now.  


  2. Anonymous says:

    If electric cars are to become a reality somebody will need to offer the right politician a free 10% or 20% interest in an electric car dealership. Then watch how fast things move.

  3. Anonymous says:

    It is not very difficult to see that government is making a huge profit from the fuel tax and wants to protect that for as long as they can. More Ev’s = less petrol = less tax

  4. Anonymous says:

    why would anybody with a brain want to come here or stay here when confronted with such backward, ignorant, incompetent, short sighted politicians……zzzzzz

  5. Anonymous says:

    Electric cars aside, we need to lower the speed limit on West Bay Road.

    We will be fortunate if we get through this tourist high season without another road death on this busy road way.

    Lower the sped limit NOW the other changes can be made later.

    NRA and government have been talking about making the change yet it has not taken place.  Government can pass planning and other laws almost over-night if it affects their pocket books, but can not act to save lives.  This speaks to their priorities. (Maybe we need to take up a collection and pay them to make it happen.)

    If they do not take action the next death will be on their shoulders.  It needs to be done and done now!!!

  6. Anonymous says:

    Peter O’Lhead, XXX First of all how can you slow down the traffic in Cayman any more than it already is? Accidents? You can’t even get your car up to 40mph in Cayman anymore. Accidents are caused by reckless drivers not vehicles! And the environmental impact is tremendous anytime you replace fossil fuels with alternative sources, although granted it requires at this time in Cayman fossil fuels to run our electric generation plant and our electricity cost are 425% higher than the U.S. while our fuel costs are 165% higher, this outweighs the operating cost benefit of owning an EV. I know, how about owning an EV and charging them via solar panels? Free electricity and free fuel to operate your car while protecting the environment for which we owe our tourism product? Now tell me sir how that could not possibly be in the best interest of the country? That Zapcar looks dangerous to me however, but it is not a car is it (?), it is a "tri-cycle" or "motorcycle" of sorts! A proper EV is the wave of the future,Cayman let’s take the initiative to be environmentally friendly and legalize these perfectly safe vehicles. I don’t how they can be disallowed in the first place! Mr. Felder, don’t give up sir!

  7. Anonymous says:

    Electric cars are perfect for islands such as Cayman and Bermuda due to our physical size as most don’t have range over 100 miles, that’s the only reason they haven’t taken off more that they have in the U.S. Electric cars such as the Nissan Leaf for example, by the way Nissan sold out of their initial offering or 60,000 cars I think it was, are just as safe as any other car on the road or they wouldn’t be allowed in the U.S. They easily have top speeds over 40 mph and are safety crash tested etc. etc. We the people deserve an alternative to high gas prices and it would be nice if Cayman was seen as a leader in eco-friendliness. Of course our cost of electricity is USD .34kwh when the average in the U.S. is .08kwh or 425% higher. But nonetheless, eco-friendly, electric cars must be allowed in Cayman! Government, please get with the program here and catch up with the rest of the world. Imagine the world-wide recognition, not to mention the promotion of our naturally beautiful island we could project by doing the right thing, by conserving energy and our planet and our environment? We could promote ourselves as an environmentally friendly islandnation who cares for it’s natural resources such as our marine environment by allowing such things as electric cars, not making it illegal to own one which sends the opposite message!!!!Are we still really a third world country? I hope not…………. Go GREEN GOVERNMENT OF THE CAYMAN ISLANDS!

    • Anonymous says:

      If you look at the efficiency of the EV in terms of kWh’s per mile, even with the higher cost of electricity in Grand Cayman there will be significant savings over the gasoline vehicle with current gas prices at $4.60/gallon. 

    • Anonymous says:

      "Of course our cost of electricity is USD .34kwh when the average in the U.S. is .08kwh or 425% higher".

      I am not sure where you pulled these figures from but according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration the average cost for residential consumers is US$0.1202 per kWh. The average for the New England states is much higher, at US$0.1668. The highest is Hawaii at US$0.2859, while the lowest appears to be Washington State at US$0.832.  Your point is taken that it is much more expensive in Cayman on an average basis, but not 425% higher. The cost in Cayman will fluctuate greatly with fuel prices as the largest component of that cost. The base cost is about CI$0.1040


      • Anonymous says:

        blah, blah base cost b.s…… what does a base cost even mean when it does not factor in the fule cost of producing the energy…..

        go back and drink some more cuc kool aid……

        • Anonymous says:

          It might help if you read the whole post rather than just the last sentence. While you revel in your ignorance, I am trying to give some understanding of the issue.   

  8. Anonymous says:

    The question that needs to be asked is who profits and who loses profits?

    If Gov. changes the law, they lose and the local people gain…..so why would they change the laws. It was the same with alternate energy sources, they fought that tooth and nail because thay are so closely tied to CUC.

  9. Peter O'Lhead says:

    Keep these monstrous machines off our roads.  Their positive environmental impact, if any, is minimal, and they will slow down local traffic causing more accidents.

    • Anonymous says:

      Well said, the oil industry would be very pleased with your sentiments.

    • Anonymous says:

      These cars will do 40 mph.  The majority of our speed limits are 40 or less.  Please explain how they will slow down traffic?  Are we not supposed to be driving at or below the speed limit?

      • Anonymous says:

        Because everything east of Bodden Town is 50 mph, and you will only be able to drive 40 mph? Personally I find it a bit irritating when there is someone ahead of me driving 40 in a 50 mph zone.

        • White Zombie says:

           Lord have mercy, you guys need to catch up. American car companies produced EVs that zipped along the California freeways @ 90MPH more than 10 years ago (killed by the oil industry, there’s even a movie about it). Today we have EV race vehicles like Tesla, and there is a newer brand, Phoenix, trucks and SUVs that can carry 5 people and a full load, and zip along 90MPH and have a range of 120 miles on a full charge (it takes 5 hour to recharge or 10 minutes using professional charge apparatus). Google "White Zombie", a home built EV car that leave muscle cars in the dust at drag racing contests. And everybody knows about Honda and Toyota hybrids. Point is, this is not about technology, it’s been here a long while, it’s about political will and paying off the right people. And of course the need for regular Joes and Janes to update their paradigm as it relates to autos.

    • Anonymous says:

      yes lets keep importing more 15 year old japenese imports that don’t cause any accidents….zzzzzzzz

  10. A Concerned Young Caymanian Father says:

    Nice to know. Gov’t. won’t make any moves to go green for the automotive industry, because they enjoy the high gas prices….especially since they don’t have to pay for theirs!

  11. Ease D Tention says:

    100% politricks! 

     If there is less gas being bought, decrease in the importation of vehicles(which I think we need to place a cap on a annual basis) etc, then govt revenue drops significantly.  And that’s just to start!  Eventually, the car dealers will close their business, unemployment will increase, and govt will have to bear the brunt of supporting the people who are in need.  It’s a vicious cycle.

    Can you see why govt will continue to avoid this touchy topic!


    God speed my people !



  12. Anonymous says:

    Who are the morons in government which are blocking electric cars?

    Surely, these people need to be identified and replaced.

  13. Mark How says:

    We could and should be leading the world on this, but no……..

  14. Richard Wadd says:

     It has been more than four (4) years since the Revision of the Road Traffic Law was completed, and it is yet to be passed into Law.

     FACT !!

    And even though far GREATER counties than us allow these vehicles on their roads and Highways, after spending untold Millions of $$ performing Safety Research and Testing, our Under-Educated and Under-Informed Govt. refuses to allow these changes to be adopted, because they have personal (albeit unsupported) ‘Feelings’  on certain proposed changes.

     No wonder places like Bermuda runcircles around us !

  15. Ah Me, Man! says:

    The equation is as follows:

    No gas needed is < (less than) or = (equal to) no fuel tax, which is = (equal to) no money, for a thrifty, overspending, non-accounting, no one can take ownership, government administration.


    • Anonymous says:

      And where do you think the electricity to power these vehicles will come from?  CUC perhaps?  And how does CUC generate its electricity?  From diesel.  Therefore electric vehicles (in Cayman at least) = higher CUC usage = more diesel consumption = government fuel taxes.  Granted, it won’t be entirely offsetting since electric vehicles are more efficient, but the fact remains that the government will still make some revenue from this.

      • Anonymous says:

        wow…you just disproved the point you were trying to make in one paragraph….

  16. Anonymous says:

    I presume that to admit electric cars into Cayman, laws would have to be changed, and someone would have to do some work. With no recycling program in place, and still no environmental  protection laws in Cayman, we can probably expect to catch up with the outside world just as electric cars become obsolete.  Who the hell wants to drive a three-wheeler, anyway? They went out in about 1965!

    • Pending says:

      If those 3 wheelers became a mode of trasnport down here, probably geared towards the tourists or whoever, there would be a death a week on the roads.

      With the current level of expertise being showcased by our drivers island wide you would have to be a maniac to get into one of those death traps.

      If another "regular" sized car hit you in one of those you would be crushed like a tin can. If an SUV or dump truck hit you, the thing would be flattended like a pancake and the occupants would then become food for the chickens.

  17. Anonymous says: