Automobile regulators in the Cayman Islands have cleared the way for electric cars, marking a small but important step forward for alternative energy vehicles. The legalization of the zero-emissions vehicles has so far been well received in the Caribbean territory where gas prices currently top $7.50 per gallon.

The Cayman Department of Vehicles and Licensing will now register electric cars on the island after previously barring them from its roads. The announcement came at the first ever Caribbean International Electric Car Show held at the Cayman Motor Museum. Among the vehicles on display was the Wheego, a two-seat compact car that runs about 100 miles on a single charge. The Wheego starts at $32,995 and qualifies for a $7,500 federal tax credit. The company is in the process of expanding its network of dealers to other Caribbean nations, including Jamaica and the Dominican Republic. The cars are currently sold in 13 states, Japan and now the Cayman Islands.

In Cayman, officials are planning to construct more than a dozen new solar-powered charging stations across the territory to help support the newly legalized electric cars. Cayman Automotive, the first car dealer in the territory to sell electric vehicles, has hopes of selling as many as 3,000 electric cars by 2018, the Caribbean Journal reports.

Electric cars offer buyers environmental and long-term cost benefits. But the industry faces several hurdles that have slowed adoption by the mass population. Fully electric cars take a long time to charge — the Wheego, for instance, takes 10 hours to charge from zero to 100 percent — and the relatively low availability of charging stations makes it difficult to travel long distances.

While no one expects instantaneous, widespread adoption of electric cars across the Cayman Islands, officials there say any reduction of carbon emissions will be beneficial to the territory’s fragile environment.

“We are thrilled to be able to introduce this technology to the Cayman Islands in an effort to further preserve our treasured ecosystem,” said Hon. McKeeva Bush, premier of the Cayman Islands, at the end of last year when the solar charging stations were announced. “Our natural environment, including the Mastic Trail, the Blue Iguanas and our pristine waters, is a source of national pride, which we plan to maintain for years to come. This development is crucial to our success.”

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