Cayman Automotive striving for a greener future wheego electric cars EV

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Nissan's Greener Electric Cars

Cayman Automotive striving for a greener future

from the CayCompass, January 23, 2012

Cayman Automotive is leading the way in introducing eco-conscious personal transportation to the Cayman Islands and the entire Caribbean. Thanks to new legislation, electric vehicles from Cayman Automotive will soon be zipping up and down the Islands’ roadways.

The company strives for a more environmentally responsible future, committing to the use of alternative, renewable energy sources and less dependence on fossil fuels.

Specialising in sales and leasing of new and pre-owned US-manufactured vehicles, Cayman Automotive was the first company in the Caribbean to introduce electric vehicles, bringing the Chevrolet Volt, a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle to the Cayman Islands in 2011.

In October, the company received its first Wheego fully electric vehicle. With a maximum speed of 85 mph and a range of 100 miles, the Wheego will be available at around half the cost of the Chevrolet Volt, Cayman Automotive president John Felder says.

Alongside importing electric-powered vehicles, Mr. Felder has been working with a team of energy management experts to establish a network of charging stations for electric vehicles throughout Grand Cayman.

Cayman Automotive has been developing plans in collaboration with experts from Corporate Electric, U-Go-Station-Cayman and the US-based Eaton corporation to ensure the underlying infrastructure is in place so that as soon as laws are finalised, charging stations can be installed and customers will be able to use their electric vehicles, safe in the knowledge that they will not run out of power.

In June, Mr. Felder unveiled the first solar panel charging station for electric vehicles at Governors Square. It will be the first such charging station, not only in the Cayman Islands, but in the Caribbean.

The first charging station will have two parking spaces and uses a modular design with solar panels built as a canopy above the parking spaces.

When not being used to charge vehicles, power generated by the solar panels will be fed back into the CUC grid, and when there is insufficient sunlight to charge batteries, additional power can be drawn from the grid.

Charging time at the Level 2 charging station will take four to six hours, significantly less than a level 1 domestic charger, which would take 10 to 12 hours to fully charge an electric car.

A network of 14 such stations are planned for Grand Cayman, strategically located in areas with retail stores and businesses such as Camana Bay, Foster’s West Bay and the Strand, and Hurley’s.

Further east, charging stations are planned for the Reef Resort and Kaibo. Some of these locations will use the level three charger which will reduce charge time to 20 to 30 minutes.

Vehicle owners will be able to shop, go to work, dine out or even enjoy the beach while their vehicle is being charged, as well as never being out of range of a charging station. At the same time it is hoped that the location of the stations will help boost trade for local businesses.

Some of the charge stations will be free while some will be fee based

Mr. Felder has been working for the past six years to bring electric vehicles to the Cayman Islands. Early electric vehicles were not commercially viable due to their slow speeds and short ranges.

Improved technology means that these problems are in large part being overcome and all the 100 per cent electric vehicles now being offered have passed the U.S. Safety and Crash Tests standards.

Mr Felder is offering customers a free level 2 charger, including installation, when they purchase a Chevrolet Volt or any electric vehicles being offered..

The introduction of the first solar-powered charging station in the Caribbean is the result of a collaboration between various Caymanian and U.S. businesses (Cayman Automotive, Corporate Electric, U-Go Stations, Inc.) and the US based Eaton, all of whom have contributed their expertise to help move the Cayman Islands towards a greener tomorrow.

Even with the vehicles on hand and charging stations installed, changes to legislation were still necessary to allow all-electric vehicles to operate on Cayman’s roads.

In December, Governor Duncan Taylor signed the revised Cayman Islands Traffic Law, which included provisions to legalise the use of all-electric vehicles, such as the Wheego.

Provisions for both neighbourhood electric vehicles and electric-powered cars that can be driven on Cayman Islands roads alongside gas-powered cars were included in the Traffic Bill.

Neighbourhood electric vehicles are lower-powered cars generally driven on side streets and parking lots, but which cannot be driven on main thoroughfares. Larger, faster brands of electric-powered vehicles will be allowed to be registered for use on local roads.

Right now, most electric-powered vehicles can’t be registered in the Cayman Islands because they can’t go fast enough and some only travel up to 40 to 50 miles on a charge.

However, vehicles currently being imported by Cayman Automotive can travel at speeds of 65 to 85 miles per hour and can drive up to 100 miles on a charge.

Legislators also have passed the Motor Vehicle Insurance (Third Party Risk) Amendment Bill 2011 to enable electric vehicles travelling on public roads to be insured.

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