Plug-in hybrid will be allowed on Cayman roads

| 15/12/2010

(CNS): Although four wheeled electric cars still remained banned from the Cayman Islands roads, one local dealer is pleased that at least the new Chevy Volt will be allowed to take to the local public highways. This plug-in hybrid electric car also has a combustion engine, so it will not fall foul of the existing road traffic law, which does not permit NEVs and other electric vehicles with four wheels or more on regular roads. John Felder of Cayman Automotive, who has been campaigning for more than four years, said he was pleased that at least this vehicle could be imported and used on the highway. Still disappointed that the wider legislative changes have not reached the statute books, Felder said this was at least a step in the right direction.

CNS recently contacted the ministry with responsibility for vehicle licensing and traffic issues to find out when Cayman would likely see revised legislation that would allow eco-friendly electric cars on the road. Officials said they were hopeful that the law would be changed in “the very near future”. The ministry said that the traffic law has been revised and is being drafted. “However, the ministry had other pressing matters such as the Water Authority, Wastewater & Waste-to-Energy Laws that took priority,” a spokesperson said. “These are now resolved, thus the Traffic Law will be next on the agenda.”

Felder, who has been pushing hard for the changes, almost abandoned his plans to sell the latest electric vehicles here and turned his attention to Bermuda and Jamaica, where legislation has already been approved, because he said he has been waiting so long.

At one point, he said, Cayman could have led the way in electric transportation in the Caribbean but instead Bermuda has taken the lead, followed by Jamaica, where electric cars are taking off. As they remained stalled in Cayman, Felder said he continues to live in hope that things will eventually change and these greener vehicles will become a reality to offer eco-conscious drivers an alternative to petrol power cars.

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  1. Anonymous says:

     Why is it so important to have these electric cars here? Do you people not realize that the electricity is diesel generated? 

    You are not solving the problem, just redistributing it!

  2. Anonymous says:

    If anyone has checked, the Chevy Volt is not a Hybrid by definition as the combustion engine is not directly connected to the drive-train. The combustion engine is merely an on-board generator to recharge the batteries eliminating the need to plug the car into the mains for recharging. Therefore, this car is technically an electric car and not much different from the one that Mr. Felder has been trying to get legalized on Cayman’s roads.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Who is behind the stupid law barring electric vehicles from Cayman’s roads?

    Why does it matter in the slightest how a vehicle is propelled?

    Are horse drawn vehicles still allowed? What about 4 wheeled push carts? Or the legality of steam powered cars?

    We can use electric motors to power everything else, so why not vehicles.

    Will some one in Government please explain its policy on electric vehicles.

    Certainly, you would think at least one of our highly paid civil servants would know the answer.

    Then, again, maybe not

    It could simply be one more law for which no one knows the reason, and no one has the intelligence to change.



    • CSI says:

      A lawyer would have to confirm this, but I don’t think it is a case of electric vehicles being banned.  I think it is a result of the original legislation defining a vehicle as one that powered by a combustion engine.  As I understand it (and if I am wrong, somebody please correct me), the legislation was written at a time when electric vehicles were not envisioned, and so the definition of vehicle was a little short-sighted.

  4. Monkey's Back says:

    I believe consideration of electric cars is a step in the right direction, however don’t be fooled into thinking it would be cheaper to run.     Reductions of emissions are important, but with fuel prices rising here and globally, an electric car makes sense only if PV solar system prices come down.  

    How do you charge an electric car?    With expensive electricity.   That combined with the high price of the cars themselves might well place them out of the reach of the average Caymanian. 

    Much of the rest of the world has incentives and rebates for alternative energies.    Currently, such systems are duty-free in the Cayman Islands.    That’s a big benefit, but not enough of a savings to induce the average wage earner into investing in PV solar or wind generation systems.  


  5. Nick Robson says:

    There is a very strong possibility that oil prices may rapidly escalate within five years. According to the International Energy Agency, from now until 2030 the world oil consumption will rise by about 60%. Transportation will be the fastest growing oil-consuming sector. By 2030, the number of cars will increase to well over 1.25 billion from approximately 700 million today. Consequently, global consumption of gasoline could double. On November 9th. the IEA released their 2010 World Energy Outlook, which admits that Peak Oil is inevitable. This will affect all sectors of society, including the world’s armed forces, leading an influential research organization in Washington DC to suggested that the US military get ready for the coming challenges, suggesting that the US Department of Defense ensure that it can operate all of its systems on non-petroleum fuels by 2040. This 30-year time frame reflects market indicators pointing toward both higher demand for petroleum and increasing international competition to acquire it. Therefore, the sooner the Cayman Islands allow the importation of electric vehicles the better for the citizens of these islands.

    • Anonymous says:

      Sure – IF we can generate electricity from solar, wind, or thermal sources then I will totally agree with you but if we continue to generate our power through diesel generators then I don’t see the benefit to Cayman from electric vehicles. We’re just going to be moving the power generationfrom the vehicle to the power plant while at the same time using up vast numbers of battery cells.

      • CSI says:

        You, and others, are thinking too short term.  Right now, it is expensive to implement alternative energies, particularly here on the island.  Other governments recognize this and offer appropriate incentives to both business and consumers.  There is no "IF" where solar is concerned.  We live in a country that has sunshine year round.  The amount of energy available to us for free is more than we could ever use.  Admittedly, wind and thermal are less competitive right now, but Nick is absolutely correct that oil prices will inevitably rise by a significant margin.  When this happens, those who are well prepared with alternatives will fare much better.  Electric vehicles in Cayman will have negligible impact in the grand scheme of things simply because there are not that many cars in Cayman comparatively.  Still, the electric vehicle will not have any negative impact and there is just no good reason not to allow them here.  You are only partially correct in your assessment that consumption of fuel is simply shifted from the consumer’s vehicle to the diesel generators at CUC.  PV power generation for the vehicles would be ideal, but even with our high priced CUC electricity, there would be significant savings for the consumer compared to what they spend on gas.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Dont rush to criticize the officials who are wary of rushing into approving all electric cars. Next time you see a golf cart style electric vehicle crossing the Esterley Tibbetts Hwy at 4mph, think abouthis registration, his no vehicle test, his driving licence, his insurance, and your liabilty situation if you hit him.

    • Just Commentin' says:

      Rush?  You must be joking, right?  Do you have snail genes in your ancestry?

      Since you seem to be a newbee to the issue (See? I did not call you clueless, although it was tempting), I will let you in on something you do not seem to know: This goes way past officials being diligent or "wary".  The officials you defend have exhibited laziness and complacency beyond belief.

      Are you aware how long electric cars have been available for street use? Are you even remotely aware how long this issue has been going on? Rush? RUSH??!!! Hardly!

      Who has rushed to criticise these sluggards? I have waited a very long time to do so. It was sometime in the last century when I first heard of the the issues surrounding importing electric vehicles (EV’s) into the Cayman Islands. Electric vehicles enjoyed wide popularity in the USA in the late nineteenth century! Many countries have been encouraging the use of EV’s  for some time now and some countries even offer incentives for their use. It is now almost 2010 and we still cannot import EV’s into this country. Rush, you say?

      Successive governments have dragged their feet on this issue – apparently with the complicity of staunch advocates of complacency and feet-dragging such as yourself.

  7. Just Commentin' says:

    Due to a succession of fat, complacent, power-mad, and retrograde governments, including the present one, the Cayman Islands is loosing ground fast. Is it any wonder that the country is in trouble? 

    The Cayman Islands has the haughty airs and natty attire of a wealthy, progressive nation, but judging by current events and the operation of our government, this country has the soul of a banana republic.

    First I read here on CNS that Jamaica is ahead of us in revising laws that have unduly hindered the press from exposing poor government, while our government has nothing better to spend an entire legislative day on than debating – and worse yet, passing – a motion to prosecute a newspaper.  Now I read here that Jamaica is ahead of the Cayman Islands in passing eco-friendly legislation and that electric cars have been available there for some time. What does this say to the world about this country?

    What next? The handwriting is on the wall…Mene, mene… but who in this country cares to read the signs of the times?

  8. Libertarian says:

    It just shows you that laws are still made for the special interest – not for the little man. The major reason why Cayman’s economy is not booming. The fees, licenses, permits, and duties are hiked up whilst to much restrictive laws are in place to make it hard for the average local to start and maintain his own business. However, the laws are in the big man’s favor.

  9. Hallowe'en Jack says:

    What a waste of time here.  In terms of environmental impact using a modern gas powered car which is maintained and less than 5 years old has very little negative impact – owning a dog has a bigger carbon footprint.  The hybrid push is a marketing gimmick from Detroit rather than something which is a priority.

    It is the old bangers which really do the damage – their emissions are commonly 100 times the level of a new car.  But there is nothing being done in Cayman to prevent old cars with high emissions driving around, presumably because it is not politically acceptable.

    Maybe we should design a car which runs on fuel produced from old drafts of the conservation law, since the current government does not seem to want to do anything to protect the environment which might upset its buddies.  The governments environmental policy can be best summarised as "All talk, no action".

    • Mr. Spooner says:

      It’s simply amazing that we don’t even have emission sniff tests here at vehicle inspections.  That would take a lot of old, gas guzzling carbon spitting vehicles off Cayman’s roads.  There is also a culture thing here where people ‘soupe’ up their vehicles and change their low emission mufflers and catalytic converter for straight pipe mufflers that emit alot more emissions.  When are things like this going to be addressed?

        Are the powers that be a tad bit uneducated or just don’t care?  This is an island people, we should be trying to become environmentally conscious -especially on an island in the tropics.

    • Reality check says:

      "…a modern gas powered car which is maintained and less than 5 years old has very little negative impact – owning a dog has a bigger carbon footprint."

      What a crock of complete BS!  I’ have never seen aposting here with a more incorrect satement of how the universe works than this one.  Holy crap….

      • Kung Fu Iguana says:

        Actually Jack might be right when you take into account caused by a dog’s meat consumption in terms of carbon footprints.

        • Anonymous says:

           Thank you for posting this, but the article is absurdly incorrect.  The energy needed to make an SUV can’t possibly be what they suggest it is, and in any event the whole analysis ignores the fact that dogs (and their food pre-products) don’t emit toxic gasses merely by operating as intended.  You can’t turn on a gad/diesel vehicle without pounding a stake into the heart of the planet.

  10. Marek says:

    The problem here is that US residents are entitled to Federal and State rebates on the Chevy Volt of almost $11,000.

    Accordingly GM (knowing the consumer is only interested in their end user costs) has increased the price of the Chevy Volt to $41,000.

    So, US consumer pays a net cost (after rebates) of about $31,000.00

    Since we don’t have any such rebates the cost would be $41,000 plus, shipping, port charges and duty making the final cost to a Cayman consumer more than TWICE the cost to the US consumer.

    I fully support the concept of the Chevy Volt and would love to drive one, but I will not be paying $65,000 to drive one.

    Unfortunately (since no rebate is available to Cayman purchases) the only way to cost effectively get one will be to bypass the local dealer network. Having an American friend buy it for you, so they can claim the rebates and then importing the vehicle directly.

    This of course means no warranty for a vehicle that no longer service person will be able to repair.

    This is hardly a ‘solution’.



    • Anonymous says:

      A great way for the Government to encourage importation of electric vehicles would be to vastly reduce or even eliminate import duties on these models. However, seeing as even solar panels, tankless water heaters and other increasingly common energy efficient and "green" products still carry huge import duties I doubt financial incentives on electric cars would come through in the near future to make the Volt relatively more affordable.

      My personal opinion? Eliminate import duty on electric and hybrid cars and increase it on cars that have a very low fuel efficiency. The tiers should account not only for value but also for the stated MPG of the vehicle. Reward people who want to use less energy and produce less pollution.

    • John Felder says:

      Customers in the U.S. that export any electric vehicles cannot claim the deduction on their tax returns and face prosecution and fines by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) if the law is violated. So the idea may sound good on the surface, but it’s illegal. 

      John Felder


  11. Anonymous says:

    Also, dems seats gotta lay out flat too I can drive around laying down straight out 

  12. Anonymous says:

    As long as I can get one with a turbo (can be fake as long as it says Turbo on it, no one wil ever know. I’ll put a CD in the stereo and turn it all the way up that goes weeeeeeeeeeepa weeeeeeeeeepa like the pop off valve) must have blacked out windows of course cause you aint cool without black tint, blue lights for sure and a custom window sticker that says something like "down since day one", "Ladies Man" , "Stunner" , " Mr. Majesty" or sumthin like dat. Also, I gots to be able to drive it as fast as will go always with the spare tire on the front left but only in 2nd gear so it make a lot of noise, did I say Exhaust Kit too? AND Nother thing I ain’t fraid of the Po Po so stay outta my way…be lookin fo me in your rear view mirror riding yo back end…outta my way foo, gots impotant business to do…plans, you know.