Electric cars still stalled

| 18/05/2010

(CNS): Although John Felder of Cayman Automotive has a long waiting list of potential customers for his electric cars, there is still no sign of the necessary legislation that will enable these eco-friendly, no-carbon, cost saving, vehicles to use Cayman’s roads legally. The relevant ministry told CNS last month that government is still committed to the legislation but was unable to indicate exactly when the traffic law would be changed. Felder said, however, that he could no longer understand why the law is still being held up and says if government is serious about going green it needs to start with cars.

“It’s time for government to introduce the legislation. If it really wants to go green it has to start with automobiles as they are the number one polluters,” Felder told CNS. “We have been working with government for more than two and a half years but the legislation still seems to be bogged down.”
Felder said that it took only six months to get the same kind of electric vehicles licensed in Bermuda and he really hoped government in the Cayman Islands would soon follow through. He said the speed of the Neighbourhood Electric Vehicles (NEV) was no longer an issue as they would only be licensed to be used on roads with a 35 mph limit and the cars were as safe as any gas guzzling car.
The electric cars have numerous benefits, from reducing the islands’ reliance on oil, improving the air we breathe and cutting costs for motorists, to bringing in much needed duty for government coffers, as well as new licence fees. “I have tried to be patient and work with government on this and they have assured me it will be done,” Felder said. “I still live in hope.”
Cayman could also hit the world headlines once these cars are licensed here, Felder explained, as everything was in place for Cayman to be the first Caribbean country to introduce full solar panel charge stations. A local company has already committed to establishing the cutting edge and green systems for charging not only their own fleet of cars but those of other owners at the overnight specially designed solar stations.
Eventually there will be various speed charging stations at the supermarkets, where people can charge their electric cars as they shop. Felder explained that all of the support systems are in place for charging and servicing but it was all on government now to make it happen.
Tristan Hydes, Acting Chief Officer in the Ministry of District Administration, Works & Gender Affairs, told CNS that the ministry was very cognizant of the growing popularity of electric cars as well as the benefit it will have to consumers for saving gas and the "green" effect on the environment.  “As a result, we have undertaken a comprehensive amendment to the Traffic Law and regulations and are striving to have it completed in the near future,” he added.
Costing as little as $2 a day to run, Felder said lots of people were really keen to own them but they wanted to be able to use their cars on the roads and not just on private sites as the existing customers such as Camana Bay and Andros Group currently do.
“We have people who want to use them around George Town for deliveries among other things. On Cayman Brac and Little Cayman we have clients who want to buy fleets to use as rental cars for visitors,” Felder explained, adding that the NEV fit really well with the promotion of eco-tourism on the Sister Islands.
Felder also paid tribute to the late Sonny Rhian, of Little Cayman, who died last year and was the first person to bring a Neighbourhood Electric Vehicle (NEV) to the Cayman Islands in 2004 but was never able to drive his car on the roads because of the failure of government to enact the legislation necessary. (Picture above: Sonny Rhian’s car with his son, Walter Rhian, on Little Cayman)
“I believe government should honour Mr Rhian’s memory when it finally introduces this legislation,” Felder said.
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  1. Anonymous says:

    Here is an idea for you.

    Lets turn the whole of Grand Cayman into one big Golf Course then we can use those golf carts all over without any special government permission.

  2. Just Sayin says:

    All you environmentalists need to calm down. This has nothing to do with the environment. This is business. The electric cars will be allowed just as soon as people more important than Mr. Felder have figured out how to corner the market and keep everyone else out.


    • Voice of Reason says:

      This is a sad commentary, and a show-stopper.  Note that the comments stopped upon this posting.

      It is sad because it is undoubtedly true.

      It is a show-stopper because once a person realizes that corruption has in fact reached this level, it is apparent that all smaller business ventures looking at or operating in Cayman are doomed, unless they are run by the cousin of somebody who is "connected".

      The Cayman economy will collapse under that level of corruption, and businesses will simply pack up and move away.  We see both those things happening already.

      It is a show-stopper because it’s too late.  The game is over.  Cayman is closed for business.

      • Anonymous says:

        How right you are, absolutely disgusting.  government are not interested in helping Caymanians or anyone else just lining their own pockets!

        Great idea, good luck!

  3. Marek says:

    I am so glad that this revisiting of the issue by CNS has gotten so many posts, for one thing it means that the issue is of interest to a wide group of people.

    I am in the process of importing a NEV, I purchased it more than six months ago when the government originally promised to adopt an electric vehicle law in late 2009 and to have that law enacted in the first quarter of 2010.

    My NEV happens to be ‘doorless’. But it does have turn signals, brake lights, headlights, seatbelts and the other required features to make it street legal on roads where speed limits are 35 miles an hour or less.

    There is some valid argument about the carbon footprint required to produce the batteries but I can assure you that the footprint would be far ‘far’ far less than the footprint required to produce a combustion engine, wiring, battery, transmission and all the other parts … that are not needed on my NEV.

    Side impact, yes… i suppose that could happen, however… token plastic doors would by no means offer any level of protection. Swimming, crossing the street… drinking, eating too much… and a host of other things… you get the idea…

    There are jeeps all over this island with no doors and as other posters mentioned, motorcycles.

    I intend to drive my NEV about 12 miles per day. I would never take my NEV on the bypass and because of an increased risk from any potential collision … if anything … I would become a much safer driver than if I was in some giant gas guzzling car or truck.

    My NEV will be recharged from solar panels (2) and if i can swing it (1) which would be roof mounted right on it so that it could recharge while parked. So I wouldn’t be creating more pollution by causing the CUC to crank up the burners because of my tiny little NEV.

    Our leaders have an opportunity here to lead the world. China is currently in the news globally because of their recent undertakings to use alternative forms of energy going forward.

    Cayman could become the greenest tourist destination in the Caribbean.

    I don’t want to read or hear … Bermuda did this… I want to hear… ‘Cayman has lead the way’… 

    The caption photo is of a cart from ten years ago… they’ve improved greatly since then… they are legal in many (if not most) states and countries and used very successfully and without problems … 

    It’s a win/win/win… less pollution, slower traffic, safer driving… 

    Drive one… there is somethingabout being able to move from A to B without making noise… without combustion, without fumes… It’s is a completely refreshing way of driving and seeing our island. 

    My final comment. Every major car manufacturer will have a fully electric vehicle by early next year. Our local GM dealer will not be able to order or import the Chevy Volt. Nissan … which is very popular here in Cayman… has just released the fully electric Leaf… but our local Nissan dealer can not import them… Ford and all the other large car companies are all coming out with fully electric cars in the next twelve months… but we can’t import any of them… 

    Electric cars… are here… we need to face that and change our laws accordingly.

  4. Anonymous says:

    The only thing green about these electric KARTS may be the colour.

  5. Anonymous says:

    There are some very valid reasons as to why correct legislation has not yet been implemented.

    First and foremost, a look at the government appointed boards (cronies) shows that there are very few people with any real technical expertise. Most are businesspeople who are in for whatever they can milk out of their decisions.

    If they can’t make a sackload of cash out of the people, they aren’t bothered. Electric vehicles are here to stay. Just check out the amazing Chevy Volt coming later this year.


    And if you have a few more dollars lying around, you could go for the incredible Tesla Model S.


    The Department of Energy loaned $465 million to the Tesla program. What has the corresponding department in the Cayman government done?

    They’ve probably never heard of these developments and they treat the people like mushrooms, kept in the dark and fed sh*t. I have never seen a bunch of more incompetent buffoons as the ones running this country. If you are not qualified for the job, for heaven’s sake, just step down.

    You will address this issue and you will address it in line with countries who are far more advanced than this one, or you will be exposed as arrogant fraudsters making a salary from the people of this country, yet refusing to serve their best interests. We are watching you and so is the world.

  6. Anonymous says:

    What they need to do here, is kill two stones with one bird, and ban Hummers and other monster trucks that drive around this island.  Make electric cars the norm and there won’t be any safety issues.

  7. Anonymous says:

    The dude is in Little Cayman, they just got pavement, CIG could cut him some slack!

  8. Anonymous says:

    So should we ban motorcycles that go zero to sixty in three seconds, mopeds, Jeeps with no doors… we allow children on our cars without car seats and we are going to resist an electric car????

  9. greenback not green says:

    It is no coincidence that this legislation is not getting passed when it is a known fact that government’s biggest revenue source is the duties charged on gas and diesel.

  10. Anonymous says:

    This car has no doors and the occupants would be very vunerable in a side on crash to both injury and to be thrown out of the vehicle. That is why the current regulations require doors, and why current design trends are towards stronger doors, stronger door latches and side airbags. 

    • anonymous says:

      mmmm, clearly you have never seen things called scooters, motorbikes or bicycles which is presumably why so many of these road users end up in A&E or worse….

    • Anonymous says:

      …and for that matter I dont see any seatbelts or any strong place to which to anchor them.

  11. Anonymous says:

    The Government probably has a valid point.

    You can call these vehicles green because they do not emit CO2, but what about the batteries that the Government presently has a handful controlling and even exports them by charging an import fee on them.

    These batteries are worst pollutants than the gasoline used in regular vehicles. These batteries emit a gas during recharge that is more pollutant to the atmosphere.

    It is probably better to restrict these vehicles than have to fund expensive environmental studies.

    • Anonymous says:

      The battery cell itself is made of "rare earths" excavated in China with little thought of the environment in the process I might suspect. 

  12. Anonymous says:

    We’ve all seen the taxis, omnibuses, and coaches that spew billowing clouds of black soot; how would these vehicles get relicenced every year if there were any sort of emission concern?  How about all of the unregulated gas-powered lawn equipment?  or CUC itself?  Where does one begin?

  13. Anonymous says:

    This situation demonstrates the incompetence and inefficiency of Government (of every party) more than any other single thing I am aware of.

    All it takes to make these vehicles lawful is for the legal department to be as liberal in interpreting the word "motorized" as they are in interpreting provisions designed to protect Caymanians.

    Alternatively, all they need to do is add to the law three words in one paragraph of the Law as follows : "or electric vehicles".

    If and when they do either they will cause the import of numerous new vehicles, spur a new modern industry, and provide new employment opportunities.

    But no… they are incompetent and inefficient and so it has taken 6 years (so far) to do what should take less than an hour of their time.

    And as for the problem about vehicles having to drive 35mph to be allowed on the road, I’ll believe that when they stop licensing backhoes.

    People think the Government and civil service (overall) are morons because they act like morons. Please help change that perception!



    • Anonymous says:

      Backhoes and warehouse fork lifts are common sights on the by-pass!

  14. Raffaele says:

    The Great procrastinator loves the Great pretender poor old Mr Felder needs to understand that the Government is the first and the ministry person is the latter. Government is like porn promises everything delivers nothing and as the songs say yes I am the great pretender pretending you are not around. Same old tired officials running the same old song and dance.

  15. Anonymous says:

    The headline should read "anything to do with the government still stalled"…. seriously. Nothing ever gets done.

  16. Mr. Praline says:

    With the atrocious quality of local driving here there is no way I would get into something as flimsy as that.  How would that stand up against an insecure wannabee in a Hummer talking on his phone as he speeds around a roundabout without indicating?

    • Mr H2 says:

      When you drive a HUMMER you feel very secure.

      • Anonymous says:

        Apparently black H2s fit perfectly into the disabled spaces at Marquis Plaza because there is always a tacky one parked there by someone disabled only by a completely lack of class or regard for others .

        • Lady Cab Driver says:

          The word "tacky" in the phrase "tacky Hummer" is a tautology.  Nothing screams "gauche" like a Hummer.

          • Anonymous says:

            They’re actually quite nice inside, but this thread has nothing to do with electric vehicles does it?

        • Mr H2 says:

          Maybe he is disabled. Are you not allowed to have one if you are disabled? Maybe you think all disabled people should drive three wheelers…That maybe how they became disabled.

          • Rorschach says:

            The fact that the vehicle does not sport a "disabled" parking sticker or the special license plates which denote it as belonging to a diabled individual, tells me probably not…it just tells me that the person driving it is an inconsiderate individual who is somehow trying to compensate for something else being small….

          • Just Askin' says:

            Where can I get me a Hummer?

          • Anonymous says:

            One the occasions I have seen the selfish man in question, the driver (male, always garishly dressed in bright labelled clothing, no surprise) jumped out of the car and ran into the coffee shop.  There is no disabled identification on the car – I checked when I thought about photgraphing and shaming this man, but then I remembered CNS don’t post specific things like that.

            His only disability appeared to be a chronic absence of class.

            And Mr. H2 you attachment to your car is endearing and typical of one who needs to buy such gauche items to prop up impaired self-esteem.

            PS Everyone else, did you know that H2’s are much cheaper than you think, you can pick them up a couple of years old for just $18-$20,000.  So Hummer drivers act flash but are basically driving something worth the same as a CRV, (aside from the atrocious fuel bills and the large blind spots).

            • Hummer Man says:

              HUMMER TIME…..I think you are being a bit tough on HUMMER drivers. I am getting mine fitted with an electric motor to be more green. I am going to put two large Honda generators in the exsteamly large boot to power the electric motor which will be fueled with used frying oil from KFC. Any left over energy I will sell back to CUC.

            • Anonymous says:

              Dear Jealous Rage, Looks like you’ve priced it out for yourself, what colour are you getting?  

              • Anonymous says:

                I was going to buy it in day-glo pink with yellow spots and airbursh a painting of a cartoon semi-naked woman on the side.  After all it is not as if you can look anymore ridiculous in a Hummer.

      • Wow! says:

        I have heard Hummer drivers have there own society, the Transport With Attitude Today Society.  I know that because people often call Hummer drivers by the club’s acronym.

  17. Other Side of The Coin says:

    So……if government vehicles went electric, this would immediately solve the budget crisis, would it not? A new card system to replace the current gas cards that are apparently impossible to track! hmmmmm…….

    On the other hand, I am thinking perhaps this legislation was stalled because a few people with "influen$e" don’t want change that could potentially cause them to lose millions in profits from the importation and sale of gas.

  18. Dred says:

    Let’s put it this way. The "vehicle" in the picture should not be allowed because that really looks like a golf cart but Electric vehicles in general should be.

    Or put anotherway. It should not be because they are electric vehicles why they can not go on the road. It should only be because of safety concerns such as an accident. The "vehicle" in the picture has no doors and the driver could be killed too easily or could even fall out of the "vehicle" too easily. 

  19. Scrooge McDuck says:

    Electric cars are such a smart idea it won’t ever be adopted we’re already in trouble with use of the Intranets besides, where would the kids put their coffee can-size exhausts?  You have to HEAR and SMELL a car to know it’s working.

  20. Anonymous says:

    What happen to the man that had his car fueled by WATER, and because of the law here and the gas stations protesting, he was unable to sell his creation?

    This is what I don’t like about foolish laws restricting the people from having a happier life because a few business men will suffer

  21. Anonymous says:

    Could the reason be that the particular Ministry invlolvedseems focused on agriculture and women affairs?

    • Adam Smith says:

      Well it is important that the state explores "new fruits in Honduras" because apparently the free market does not work.

  22. Green Hornet says:

    As usual, we are still in  yesterday’s technology. There are very inexpensive SOLAR chargers, Mr. Fletcher, much cheaper in the medium term than CUC.

    Of course this government will do nothing about environmental legislation of any kind. They are still living in 1950 when build build build was the cry of every nation on earth – come hell or high water – and damn the consequences.

  23. Diplodocus says:

    The legislation should not be passed to put these pollutant vehicles on the roads.  This is not "eco-friendly" when one considers Cayman’s sources of electricity.

    Now if we had a nuclear power plant . . .

  24. Anonymous says:

    Nicky and Wendy,

    I personally know of a small electric car which I often see driving up and down West Bay and it even has licence plates displayed on the front and the rear. This vehicle belongs to a local gentleman who lives on Boggy Sand Road and most days it’s parked up at Morgans Harbour and it’s often seen travelling along Botabano Road and pass the West Bay Police Station.

    I should think that if this vehicle is legally licenced/insured to be on Cayman roads, was is it that Mr. Felder cannot import, sell and licence other similar vehicles ??? 

    • Anonymous says:

      The vehicles you are referring to have3 wheels- hence considered motorcycles.

      If it has 4 wheels it falls under the vehicle law – same as a driving lawn mower (which incurs the same duty as a car). I know makes no sense to me either. 

    • Anon says:

      I have seen the car that you refer to and it has a single wheel in the front. In the US this "car" is technically a motorcycle, so it does not have to pass any "crash test" to be allowed on the road.

      Because of the failure to meet stringent crash tests, most electric vehicles sold in the US are registered under a separate category of "urban vehicles" that are not allowed to be driven on roads with speed limits greater than 35mph. I believe they also have to have a governor that restricts their maximum speed to 35mph.

      With little in the way of legislation to guide them, the people working in our Traffic Department tend to make up the rules and interpret things as they please.

      Felder and the other guy just probably saw different interpreters.

      • Anonymous says:

        I cannot remember the exact definition of a "vehicle" as per the Cayman Islands Traffic Law but I know contained therein is the wording "mechanically propelled".

        In this case, even if it’s a three wheeler (motorcycle) as mentioned, it’s still not "mechnically propelled" and I don’t think it can be recognized as a legal vehicle on Cayman roads as it’s operated by electric current, which the present law makes no provision for. It’s like a golf cart on the road which would definately be illegal.

        Maybe when it was first licenced/insured, it was "mechanically propelled" (motorcycle) but since that time it was "boxed up" and converted to being operated by electric current, thus the original licence plates it now displays on the front and rear. I don’t know for sure.

        A "bicycle" is considered to be a vehicle under the present Traffic Law and has to comply with the Road Code the same as any other licenced vehicle, but of course, it’s propelled by human energy.

        In any case, I hope very soon that electric vehicles will soon be imported and can be legally operated on our roads so we don’t have to contend with almost $4.50 a gallon for petrol. Of course, once CUC get’s wind of electric cars on our roads I’m sure they will also increase their rates for larger profits. Perhaps when buying an electric car when it becomes legal, consider purchasing a wind generator/solar panel as well which could be multi-purpose. (for car and your home)


        • Anonymous says:

          Internal combustion engine cars are tecnically chemically propelled. They BURN fuel to propel themselves. The only mechanically propelled vehicles are bicycles.

      • Anonymous says:

        As far as I remember 3 wheeled vehicles were prohibited on island. No?

  25. Maxie Fletcher says:

     I don’t want to rain on your parade, John Felder, but the use of electric vehicles instead of gas/diesel vehicles simply pushes the hydrocarbon fuel consumption further up the supply chain. Just who is it that supplies the electricity to charge the batteries in your electric car? CUC. And how do they generate that electricity? Using diesel fuel oil imported into the Islands. Emissions? That dirty brown plume emanating from the exhaust stacks over at Sparky Drive. Nothing’s for free in Green Land, Mr Felder, nothing. If everyone was to convert to electric vehicles tomorrow (law allowing), CUC would have to increase their output by another 35 or so MW- that’s 4 new generators each spewing more sulphurous emissions into the air over North Sound. Solar-powered charging stations? C’mon, Mr Felder! It will take an array of around 9 square yards of solar panels just to charge a single vehicle for a day’s usage. No, we’re in CUC’s grip for some time to come, and I for one is surprised that they haven’t pushed for electric vehicles more strongly. The more are on the road, the more wattage they get to sell, the more profit they make.

    CNS Note: As stated in the article the cars will be charged at solar stations where the sun as oppose to oil will generate the electricity.

    • Shock and Awe says:

      We could ride bikes.  oh i’m sorry that’s a stupid idea then we’d need bike paths and bike paths are made of asphalt and asphalt is a petroleum product and then we’d breathe heavier and release more CO2 so in reality it wouldn’t be green forget i said that Let’s Stay With Diesel

      i love the smell of diesel in the morning.

    • Anonymous says:

       hey smarty its called solar panels

    • Rorschach says:

      You are assuming that the car will need to be fully recharged after every use, which is simply not the case.  As someone who has done a LOT of research into the feasability of electric vehicles in the Caribbbean, I can say that the average driver uses their vehicle for an average of 1.5-2 hours daily to commute to and from work.  Between those times, the vehicle then SITS for 7 to 8 hours.  During this idle time,a solar charger integrated into the body work or roof of the car and wired to charge the batteries, would be capable of topping the batteries up before the commute home.  The average year sees over 300 days of sunshine in the Cayman Islands.  One would only really need to use a hard wired electric charging port to top up the car in the event that the battery was fully discharged, which, given todays high capacity, high output batteries, can enable a car to travel for distances up to 150 miles or more, so your theory of CUC having to suddenly increase their output by "35 or so" MW is totally outrageous.  Just think of all the pollution that would be negated by cars sitting in traffic idling to and from GeorgeTown from the Eastern Districts and West Bay each and every weekday..??  Before you try and rain on anyone’s parade, Mssr. Fletcher, please do some research and don’t pull "facts" out of your….head…and for more information on where I got my information, just Google "electric car"..

    • Al Nomadi says:

      The Cayman Islands Government could of course implement a modern energy policy, which, among other things, could mandate that all electrical utility generators generate 25% of the islands power with wind turbines and solar thermal by 2020. Then one could more happily drive an electric vehicle knowing that a quarter of your energy was carbon free.

      Furthermore said policy could further mandate that by 2030 that 50% 0f our energy would be generated by alternative means.

      The other benefit of this would be to insulate the Cayman Islands from escalating oil prices in years to come, which some experts say could be as close as five years away, and with prices far above the 2008 high of $147 per barrel.

  26. peter milburn says:

    Why am I not surprised at this hold up.What are they waiting for the Conservation Law to go through!!!!!!!!??Typical of our local Govt.anything that is good for the country (Environment wise)will be held up.Look at how fast they allowed the Ritz to take away that beautiful area of LUSH mangroves.Face it folks NO ONE in this Govt wants anything to do with Enviromental issues so unfortunately when our tourism product drops even further you will hear another NANCY story.

            Would be nice to show the rest of the world that we care enough to pass these sort of things to further our Conservation efforts.For Gods sake guys this is our childrens future you are throwing away.How can you ALL sleep at nite?I guess those blinders I mentioned some time back are still fitting snugly to your faces.Show some guts and take your heads out of the sand(at least what we have left of that)