Posted by: Jerry Garrett | March 19, 2012

The Caymans: Offshore Haven for Your Money & Your Electric Vehicle

The Caymans: Tax & EV haven

The Cayman Islands enjoy an abundance of sunshine. So, why not put that solar abundance to work, to help solve one of the islands’ most pressing energy needs?

That’s the thought behind an evolving transportation initiative: Liberalizing laws allowing electric cars on Cayman highways, and installing a public infrastructure of solar-powered stations to re-charge them.

In December, the governor, Duncan Taylor, signed into law revisions in the Cayman Islands Traffic Law, which included legalizing the use of all-electric vehicles able to travel at highways speeds, that meet crash test standards and contain proper safety equipment.

Previously, the law had considered EVs to be merely low-speed golf-cart sorts of machines. Such vehicles already have widespread (and increasing) popularity in many island and resort locations, but are usually limited to neighborhood, beach or downtown use.

Wheego's LiFe EV

In late 2011, one of the island’s automobile dealerships, Cayman Automotive began importing $32,995 Wheego LiFe EVs from the United States. Customers liked them immediately. Since then, rental car companies began offering them too.

Wheego’s LiFe has a top speed of 85 m.p.h. and a range of about 100 miles on a charge.

That’s seen as a perfect range for the three islands comprising the Caymans, which have a total area of 102 square miles; operating an EV far enough to run it out of juice shouldn’t be much of an issue

And what happens when the time finally comes to re-charge? The islands are tackling that problem too, with a plan to install a network of 14 Level 2 publicly accessible charging stations – powered by solar cells.

So that means the electric car and its infrastructure are intended to be totally self-supporting – which is a good thing on islands that must ship in, at great expense, all fuels used for transportation and utility power.

Wheego fans attend EV charging station inauguration in Governors Square. (Wheego.net)

The first station, in Governors Square on Grand Cayman, was recently inaugurated. Upgrades planned include a canopy of solar cells (which themselves provide welcome shade during the re-charging process).

The solar cells are always “on”; when not being “milked” of energy for vehicle re-charging, they feed surplus power back into the local power grid. (In the event of insufficient sunlight – a rare occurrence in the Caymans – any excess power needed by the re-charging station can be made up by juice sent from the grid.)

Some of the planned re-charging stations will feature Level 3 fast-charging capability. Some of the charge stations will be free, while some will charge a fee.

When the 14 stations are in place, and EV use becomes easier and more user-friendly, perhaps the Cayman Islands will become not only an ideal place to park your money, but also your electric car.

Jerry Garrett

March 19, 2012

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Responses

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