Electric cars could hit Cayman’s roads this year

| 04/10/2009

(CNS): With zero emissions, no noise pollution and an incredibly low carbon footprint, electric cars are one of the greenest ways to travel. But their acceptance into Cayman has been slow in coming with successive governments reluctant to license them for the roads because of their low speeds when compared to the distinctly un-eco-friendly combustion engine. However, there is now hope for a greener life as government is expected to change the licensing law before the end of this year to allow the vehicles to drive in zones with speed limits under 40mph.    

The good news is particularly welcome by John Felder of Cayman Automotive the local dealer for ZENN & GEM Electric vehicles. “We are the only business in the Caribbean offering this product to consumers,” said Felder, who added that his environmentally responsible customers include Camana Bay, Andro Electric & Orchid Development.

So far, the cars can only be used off the official roads, but all that is set to change as the new government is expected to pave the way for much wider use of these vehicles with legislation to license them for the road in zones not exceeding 35 mph. This means the cars will be able to drive in and around George Town and on the Sister islands, once the speed limit is reduced along the West Bay Road the cars will gain a much wider range.

Although the new law is currently being drafted which will see Cayman drivers offered the opportunity to be more environmental responsible, Cayman is still way behind Bermuda, which has already approved both the GEM and ZENN for use on their roadways and where the cars are being imported duty free as an incentive for the citizens to go "green". Meanwhile, Cayman is paying the same duty on these cars of the future as regular petrol and diesel burning cars and Zelder seriously hopes that the Caymanian public will get behind the cars and push for a reduction in duty to encourage far wider use across the islands.

Aside from the environment, which is probably sufficient reason alone for many people, owning and driving an electric vehicle is also ten times less expensive than a conventional vehicle. The vehicles charge from a standard 110 volt plug-in outlet, but to further reduce costs and the carbon foot print, solar panel charging stations are also available for the cars.

Amar Sheow, Marketing & Sales Representative for Cayman Automotive, said that electric vehicles provide worry-free operation and eliminate most of thereplacement and repair costs of oil changes, filters, exhaust, and expensive tune-ups associated with conventional vehicles. “It makes the statement that you are socially and environmentally responsible and they are not only the future but stylish and fun. But most of all they make sound economic sense in the current reality of high fuel prices and dwindling non-renewable supply,” added Sheow.

The ZENN Electric vehicle will be taking pride of place at the forth coming Chamber of Commerce Expo on 23 & 24 October 2009 at The Family Center.

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  1. ricky bobby says:

    Man all of this going green stuff is confusing,I am gonna use my 10 bucks to buy a bicycle!!

  2. Hummer Bummer says:

    While we are on the subject of cars that open one up to ridicule, Hummer drivers, when you see one, what word comes to mind?

    • Ron Jeremy says:


    • Anonymous says:

      While you are ridiculing Hummers, consider that the H3s are no more gas guzzling than your typical Ford Explorer or other SUV.   Additionally with Cayman’s improved roads in the last 10-15 years, fording depth is no longer a vehicle requirement.  There are a multitude of SUVs, pickup trucks, jeeps with lift kits; none of these vehicles are really necessary for the most part, we choose to drive them because we like them and are allowed to do so.  

      • Ron Jeremy says:

        Spot the microdxxk…

      • Anonymous says:

        See I told you they were insecure.  He should should have just said the truth "becuase I thought it would help with the ladies".

    • Anonymous says:

      I think XXXX, XXXX and XXXX all are appropriate.  Bascially nothing screams "insecurity" more than a Hummer.  (With the exception of a blinged up Hummer which screams it even more).\\

      I love to point and laugh at short little fat men driving Hummers.

    • Blue pill/red pill says:

      Who would want to drive a Chinese car anyway? 

  3. Anonymous says:

    We’d settle for a simple bike lane so we could safely ride our bikes to work.  If that were possible, we would be substantially faster than a ZENN with a zero carbon footprint. 

    LOGB:  Plant some trees and build a biking boulevard!

    • Anonymous says:

      Sidewalks might help too – especially in town – it is good to walk!

  4. Anonymous says:

    It is well proven that driving in the context of traffic speeds prevents accident scenarios.  As desirable as electric cars may be for the sister islands (which I would back 100%), introducing speed differentials (the Zenn) on Grand Cayman’s roads will lead to more driver deaths. 

    Ask yourself, would you honestly want to occupy the inside one of those tin boxes in an accident?  How many times a week do you almost get clipped by someone in a traffic circle in a real car?  Proponents should realise that it was never designed to be driven a regular traffic speeds, let alone around the maniac drivers we have here. 

    "Designed to meet neighborhood and urban transportation needs, the regulated maximum speed of a ZENN is 25 mph. As such its intended use is busy urban areas, lower speed roads and places like gated communities and campuses where speed is neither necessary, desirable or safe."

    Speed is necessary here as a matter of safety.  Opponents to that theory  should rent a <50cc rental scooter for the day to gain an appreciation of how slow and vulnerable you would be in this car.  Although I wish it were not so, it is.    



    • Makam says:

      Did I read that right?? "speed is necessary here as a matter of safety"

      I not think I have read any thing connected with road safety as totally ridiculous as that statement.

      The majority of the roads in the George Town area are 25mph. We do not have the highways as they have in the USA or Europe where 60mph or higher are safe speeds.

      The problem with road safety on these islands is not slow speed but the young morons who think they can drive and the society which gives them an opportunity to aim a potentially lethal weapon ( an imported car) at other innocent road users.

      I am sick of the general opinion that it is anything but the lunatic driver (in the majority of cases young driver) that causes the accident. They kill themselves, it is not the road or some "dire’ emergency it is their incompetent driving which puts them and all the rest of the lawful road users at risk!

      I see no reason on earth why drivers below a certain age (say 25) cannot be limited to driving one of these electric cars, until they get the experience of driving.


      • Anonymous says:


        "I see no reason on earth why drivers below a certain age (say 25) cannot be limited to driving one of these electric cars, until they get the experience of driving."

        All of us drivers under 25 must be oh so inexperienced that we should "all" be limited to drive one of those electric cars…..an ignorant statement if I ever saw one.

        I am a 20 year old female driver and owner of a Standard, 2 door, Toyota Celica! And I have you know that I have never been involved in any type of accident what so ever and I have been driving since I was 17 years of age!

        I agree that some of the younger generation are idiots! And are not very responsible when it comes to driving on the roads of Cayman. But I was taught that I am not only looking out for my safety but the safety of others when I am on the road and I have proven myself worthy of not being classified in the category that you have just put all young caymanian drivers in. But I guess I will just have to put up with the ignorance that you and other people seem to have of all the young drivers….One spoilt apple does not spoil the whole bunch.

        • Makam says:

          Three years driving experience on a small island and you are an expert. LOL

          • Anonymous says:

            I in no way called myself an expert. I simply said that it is ignorant to make it sound like it is all of us young drivers causing havoc on the road. Of course, I should know that people are going to take what they want from what I wrote and post their "smart" comments. So I won’t be bothered. Your sarcasm is neither appreciated nor wanted and simply disgusts me.

        • Mozzie Fodder says:

          You can be a great driver and still be in an accident – just won’t be your fault.

          My mentality for driving is to assume that everyone else on the road is an idiot – that way I am always prepared!

  5. Recruitment says:

    I think Juliana should use her new position to use biblical figures to come to the aid of Cayman’s power problems.  Moses can part the North Sound and use it for hydroelectric power and I am fairly sure that there are power uses for Ezekiel’s wheel.  Green energy and bonus points towards eternal salvation – a win-win plan for the McKeevaban.

  6. The Economist says:

    Electricity generated at a plant uses fuel, sure, but it is massively more efficient than using the fuel in a car-mounted internal combustion engine.  Pennies per mile instead of $50 or worse a tank.  That’s not even accounting for the clean air point.  The idea that a car engine can run as efficiently as a generator station is nonsense.

    PLUS: the option of going solar is already here, and shortly even your shingles can generate electrical power:


    Embrace a green future.  It will save you money, and halp save the earth at the same time.  How can you lose with that?

  7. Richard Wadd says:

     Good point about the ‘Zenn’ from ‘Zenn Owner’.

     To our Govt ‘decision makers’, what a load of manure. If you want to argue about EXCLUDING any vehicle from the roads, use a valid argument, such as Safety Standard Compliance (not that we have any Safety Standards). What a bunch of ‘self-important know-it-alls’ who don’t know crap from gold.

     On an island where the Maximum Speed Limit is 50mph, and 80% of the roads are UNDER 40mph (should probably read 25mph), which ‘proper’ electric motor vehicle would have a problem on our roads? We don’t have highways, much less Super Highways, or an Autobahn.

     We’re not talking about Golf-carts here. All we have to do is review and adopt the Guidelines that have already been undertaken by MUCH LARGER Countries than ourselves (Germany, Uk, Canada, take your pick).

     There is no need to re-invent the wheel here. Why must we persist with thinking that the World revolves around us? We aren’t even a pimple on its butt ! 

     As a small country, we can actually earn revenue from creating a more carbon friendly transport system. The problem is that it will actually take Intelligent, Foward-thinking Caymanians to make this happen, and THEY are in short supply.

  8. Good for environment? Not really... says:

    Cayman gets its electric power from a plant that uses generators powered with heavy oil (diesel).  Therefore electric powered vehicles will have, at best, a neutral environmental impact as these vehicles will indirectly be burning heavy oil from the power plant.  In fact, there is a energy loss in going through the energy cycleh: heavy oil – power plant – transmission – input into vehcile – use in vehicle. 

    Although counterintuitive, electric powered cars in Cayman will actually cause more of an environmental impact that buring gasoline.  

    • Greenpeace says:

      This is complete hogwash.  The Electric Power Research Institute advises that in the US if electric cars displaced half of all vehicles on the road by year 2050, they would require only an 8% increase in electricity generation (4% increase in capacity).  It is NOT a zero-sum game.



      • U R Nutz says:

        Except they have more efficient power generation facilities – less fossil-fuel-based facilities (read nuclear, wind, wave and hydro) and have power generation figures that make the whole equation completely different.

        Before you go building our own little 3-mile-island on North Side, think about it…

        We do not have many of the economies of scale.  We have a system that has a monopolised fossil-fuel base.  Unless you are putting solar panels on every roof and offering free hook-ups to customers and staff (read BIG EFFING OPPORTUNITY TO SHOWCASE OUR ABILITIES) then we are going to be robbing Peter to pay Paul…

        Gotta luv that eco-scientifical-pollutionary-BS!!!

        FYI – Based on your statements, I am betting you are the one looking to have gas prices the same as in the US, because "that is what they charge", as opposed to realising we are on a tiny little island with incremental costs to boot…

        • Greenpeace says:

          "I am betting you are the one looking to have gas prices the same as in the US"

          Where on earth did you get that from?

          As an aside, power (i.e. movement) generation in a car engine is way less efficient than power creation/conversion at the plant.  If you have to burn fossil fuels to provide vehicle locomotion, it’s much better to use a plant than a car engine for the conversion of chemical energy to kinetic energy.


          PS – "3-Mile-Island on the North Side"?  No, I was thinking of just runnng wires from a nuclear plant on the Brac.  That way we could just bury the nuclear waste right on site, and we wouldn’t have to dig that deep either.  The slight glow that would come on after time would save on the cost of a lighthouse to boot.

    • Scientist says:

      BS alert, BS alert.  Beware of BS from "Good for environment? Not really..."

      • R U Nutz says:

        How ’bout you come up with an arguement that makes sense…  I smelt SQUIT all over your nonsensical post…

        Can you magically make free energy come out of your outlets at home without using solar or wind – or is the wind you are using the methane based ingredient that frequents a cows arse?

        I suspect the rather odious latter…


        • Anonymous says:

          Internal combustion engines are highly ineffecient relative to the combustion used in power plants to run an electric generator. Even with losses in transmission you would still see a net gain by switching to electric vehicles for transportation. Relative to the potential energy in a car fuel tank, combustion only provides around 10% kinetic energy given the mass of the vehicle and payload. While there was no real substance to the post you replied to, they’re correct in calling BS on the original comment about effeciency.

    • Anonymous says:

      Cayman gets its electricity from a plant that uses distillate fuel (Diesel) not heavy oil as you have stated. There is a difference between distillate fuels and heavy oil. Heavy oil is made from fossil fuels and is mostly the worst polluted parts of the fossil fuel. Distillate fuel on the other hand is a combination of oil and chemicals.

      Diesel fuel can be made from agricultural products such as ethanol and vegetable oil and will function just as well as the distillate brand with the exception that it will be more costly and more environmentally friendly.

      Many people in the Cayman Islands now consume used vegetable oil from restaurants with a variation of mixes consisting of part diesel oil and part cooking oil. This works just as well as regular diesel with the exception that it smells differently.

  9. Mozzie Fodder says:

    Electric cars on this island are not a green alternative:

    To power an electric car on the Cayman Islands requires electricity which is created by burning diesel. Burn it to get your electricity or burn it in your engine, you still burn fuel one way or the other.

    If the electricity for these cars came from solar, then you’d be in the Green business.

    No doubt there is probably someone who can do a few sums and come up with a measure of efficiency of fuel use to prove that it is more efficiently used by the electric car but it would be negligible when compared to the massive amounts of fuel used by CUC’s emmission belching plant.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Electric cars are NOT green!  OK, so you don’t fill them with gas a the Texaco garage, but where do you think the electricity that powers them comes from..??  CUC. And how does CUC produce this electricity..?  FROM GASOLINE!!! 

    • Almost Gottit says:

      Diesel and Green Iguana Fat to be more accurate…

      Buy their shares and ride the "GREEN" electric car revo-combobu-lution…

      I feel itchy rich!!!


    • Anonymous says:

      that’s only because CUC is so backwards in their approach to becoming green.  if CUC used solar energy, then the electric cars would be green by your definition.

  11. Hybrid says:

    question… wa happen to the hybrids?  Will those be licensed in the future as well.  Not as eco friendly as the electric but for those who live in the eastern districts and/or need the horsepower for daily life/ work, hybrids would be an alternative…



  12. Anonymous says:

    Perhaps we could reduce the road speeds in general.  So many car accidents are caused from speeding and overtaking.  This may be the answer to both problems.

    • Anonymous says:

      I think the underlying problems of the accidents are people driving drunk and on the phone. Speeding and overtaking is limited to a minority of west bay boyz with the boom boom music and $hitty blacked out boy racer cars. 

      • Natural Selection says:

        Nothing needs to change then – let these little punk-a$$e$ kill themselves – it is natural selection and evolution at its finest.

        All we need to do is pick a time we all stay off the roads and let them have at it for a while.


      • Anonymous says:

        Now I really have to laugh!!  Everything is West Bay this West Bay that – now West Bay boys are the only ones with boom boom music and racer cars!!!  LOL – Go West Bay!!!!!

  13. Anonymous says:

    Typical Cayman and its backwards approach to the environment. Legalize the use of electric cars but don’t allow them on any main roads!

    For an island so small it amazes me how little regard is given to environmental issues. Recycling is almost a  swear word here. Mount Trashmore is growing at a rate so fast it is looking to go independant this year but still nobody cares. Everybody gets the biggest gas guzzling 4×4 vehicle money can buy. Everybody eats their meals from polystyrene cartons. Nobody gives a damn.

    It’s like living in the past. The rest of the world has moved on and gets green issues shoved down their throat from every direction. Obviously a tiny caribbean island isn’t going to make a massive difference to global warming but if everybody thought like that, we’d be in worse $hit.

    I don’t give a flying fook either way, I’ll move to higher ground when the sea levels rise to put the island underwater, it’s the local people that will lose their homes and livelihood.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Just a query from an outsider, do you ban mopeds from the 40 mph roads?  Seems a bit illogicial to go green, but then restrict their use.  It’s not as though you have highways or motorways and 70mph+ speed limits

  15. ZENN owner says:

    With all due respect, as a ZENN owner for nearly two years, I can say without a doubt that electric cars, for the masses, are a joke. People really do not want them and manufacturers will not do what is necessary to produce an affordable electric car, capable of freeway speedswith room for four adults and some gear. Consumers will not embrace the electric car unless they are forced to, which will not occur. Also, ZENN has announced that they will not produce any more vehicles after the model year 2010. Who therefore in their right mind will purchase one of these now that they know that the company will not produce spare parts or the facilities to repair them? ZENN has made themsleves to be another chapter in the failed electric car story. They had promise – but screwed up at every turn. Our car is for sale by the way. Big surprise huh?

  16. Michael says:

    Congratulations to John Felder for this achievement, and thanks to him for bringing an environmentally friendly means of transportation to the Cayman Islands.  I can’t wait for the Islands to be full of zero-emission cars.

  17. Boston Tea Party says:

    Is this a punishment on the people of the Northside and East End?

    What utter nonsense banning the vehicles from all roads, the electric vehicles will be obsolete if they can not travel island wide and the population in these districts, are exactly the ones who would benefit most, not to mention excluding all tourists from having the opportunity to rent and drive these cars around the island.

    Come on Mr Mac where is the logic in this silly proposition…are you really serious about stimulating car sales for the economy and making Cayman’s carbon footprint smaller?

    (Or is this a daft proposition cooked up by a government official who could very well benefit from being removed from your think tank)

    • Anonymous says:

      I dont think it is punishing residents of the outlying districts. I think it is more a matter of range and the likelyhood that these vehicles would run out of charge and stop half way up or down.

      These vehicles only have a limited range and an early morning drive in heavy traffic from East End or Northside to George Town could find you stranded without power.

      These vehicles are not as simple as pushing it to the nearest Gas Station, filling it up and going again. The Batteries require electricity and time to recharge, so they are not presently suitable for longer distances. The Hybrid on the other hand uses both gasoline and Battery power and can continue its journey on gasoline when the electric charge runs out. These vehicles also recharges the Batteries while driving with the combustion engine  and would be a better choice for all island use until such time as Battery development increases the range of the pure electric vehicle.

      • Anonymous says:

        The range on decent modern electric cars (though I don’t know the specifics of the ZENN model) are typically in the vicinity of 120 miles per charge. They can be charged overnight, while at work, etc. Some better models are also set up to use the same regenerative braking technology common to the Prius so stop and go in heavy traffic recycles a good percentage of the kinetic energy back into the battery. On an island the size of ours, range should never be an issue. I’m not knocking hybrids (I prefer them to traditional combustion systems), but they’re better geared toward larger areas.

  18. Anonymous says:

    So, that means that someone livig in West Bay or East End would not be able to come to town in this car, right ??? There is a 40 mile zone on West By Road and East End to George Town!!!!!   

    • Boston Tea Party says:

      No there are several 50 mph areas on the road from E.End and N.Side

  19. Joe Average says:

    I like it!!   I am cancelling my orders for a useless, gas-guzzling, over-weight, over-sized Hummer and a 160 mph Porsche.  What will my ego do?

  20. Anonymous says:

    Let’s hope we take a page out of Bermuda’s book and create a price incentive to bring more electric cars to Cayman.

    • Incentivise... says:

      There is an automatic incentive solution right now – buy CUC stock, plug in your car to charge it each night, watch stock rise as the profits roll in to the electricity company.

       "I tink we neeeed a beeeger generator bosss"

      And Texaco might even send you a big THANK YOU card for all the extra diesel that will have to be burnt to get this electricity…

      Ahhh, pollution, the gift that keeps on giving.

      • Anonymous says:

        Yup, but it’s much cheaper to generate the same energy via our diesel plants than to burn gasoline in a traditional combustion engine vehicle for the same amount of mileage driven. Even accounting for transmission losses from plant to car, electric cars are cheaper to drive. The reason they haven’t taken off in the US is mainly due to distances driven (electric cars usually have a range of around 120 miles per charge). But mile to mile, electric cars are far cheaper to drive, and use less fuel (be it diesel or gasoline) than cars with an internal combustion engine.

        Yes, CUC will make more money, gas stations will make less, but every single driver of an electric car in Cayman will save huge amounts of money annually. You could even use the leverage of increased profits for CUC to force a rewrite of the idiotic CORE program to bring in more solar to the average consumer.