Electric bikes and microcars ʽperfect’ for Bermuda
Electric-powered vehicles make perfect sense for a place like Bermuda, and they can provide a touch of style and comfort.
That's the view of Mike Swan, who has been in the electric vehicle business for four years.
He is the founder and chief executive officer of Localmotion Ltd, which operates Bermi Cars on Happy Valley Road, Pembroke. It has a growing fleet of electric cars that seat a driver and passenger side-by-side.
The latest electric-powered transportation to arrive at Localmotion is the Bermi Bully – a bicycle that has an electric motor to assist the rider.
"It turns heads. It is a statement about who you are," Mr Swan said.
The e-bike is made in Italy by Moto Parilla, and can be powered by either a 250W or 750W motor – the smaller motor meets the upper limit allowed for e-bikes in Europe.
On paper, the e-bike has a range of 40 to 50 miles on a charged battery, depending on how hilly the route is, how much throttle is used, and how much pedalling the rider does.
Mr Swan estimates the e-bike could achieve 35 to 40 miles on a flat route using only the electric motor. The battery takes 2½ hours to recharge from empty.
The bikes have large street tyres, and there are three different frame designs. They cost $10,500 or $11,500, depending on which delivery option is used to have them imported.
When it comes to electric microcars, Bermi Cars has a rental fleet of 10 Bermis. It has sold a further 17 to private owners.
Eight more Bermis are due to arrive in July, with four for the rental fleet, and the others to be put on sale.
Mr Swan's rental business has an allocation for up to 34 cars. He lightheartedly refers to the Bermis as "golf carts on steroids", however they are equipped with air conditioning, stereo, blue tooth technology, heated folding mirrors, and even a reversing camera.
A resident who owns a Bermi, and was at the store when The Royal Gazette visited, enthused about the reversing camera and said a much higher-priced gasoline car he still owned did not even have one.
Mr Swan said: "Customers are very happy with our cars."
There are a couple of electric microcar rental operations on the island, but Mr Swan believes the Bermis stand out as being a touch above the rest. He is also planning to bring in a new, "fully kitted-out" electric microcar in the near future.
He said: "People are saying our cars are the best on the market from a comfort side of things. We're trying to position ourselves as the Rolls-Royce of the rental market."
He is not comparing the microcars to Rolls Royces, but is referring to the higher specifications on offer compared to similar cars, and also to Localmotion's "better quality of personal service".
Mr Swan said electric vehicles made sense for a place like Bermuda and he believes the Government, which is already committed to electrifying the bus fleet, could assist in the wider adoption of electric vehicles on the island.
"Why not create a new [licence] class below A Class, something like a microcar class," he said.
"Bermuda is a perfect test bed for electric cars. The average commute is about 20 miles per day.
"Electric vehicle charging is a non issue. You can get 70 miles on a charge, so you do not need charging points around the island because you can charge them at home."
Mr Swan said the service component for an electric car is less than for a gasoline car, and he estimates the operational cost of an electric car is between one-sixth and one-tenth of the cost of a traditional car.
He added: "We've been lobbying Government to allow a second car on an assessment number, as long as the second car is electric and a microcar.
"You'd be cutting down on the number of motorcycles on our roads; we have a lot of people inquiring about these cars for their kids.
"The chances are that people will not use both cars at the same time, and they may default to the little car."
Mr Swan is happy with how his enterprise is going, and the team he has around him, which includes Debbie Araujo, sales and rentals manager, and service and fleet manager Bernell Gibson.
Mr Swan said: "When you have got an idea that is driven by a passion, and you research your market, you kind of know it's going to happen.
"This is the best job I've had in my life. I'm loving it."
Localmotion can be reached by calling 519-9255, or visiting the website at www.localmotionbda.com