Jamaicans have always had a love affair with vehicles and at the Wealth Auto Show on Saturday November 26th 2011AD and Sunday November 27th 2011AD our love was on display for all to see. The latest and greatest that the automotive world had to offer Jamaicans with cash to splash was on parade like the pretty girls at the entrance that screamed Bugsy Malone meets Guys and Dolls.
A few celebrity citings were also observed by this Geezam.com blog reporter, who, ironically lives next door to the National Stadium in the community of Swallowfield, the venue for the haute coutre event for automobiles. So with the company of a friend from the area, we trundled ourselves to rub shoulders with the VIP’s who apparently got their own parking while we “footed” it to the venue.
Once inside, it soon became obvious from the cacophony of noise on the floor that one company that was raised above all the rest on a balcony was getting most of the Sunday Dinner stuffed crowd’s attention. A startup from Oregon, USA, Porteon Electric Vehicles had not even a single vehicle on display, only high-resolution gloss photographs of their intended production models, mainly All-Electric Vehicles that were cars and Trucks.
But it was their potential business model that had many ears pricked and got many impressed. The company is currently in the construction phase of a vehicle fabrication plant in Viewfort, St. Lucia right here in the Caribbean to manufacture their model of All-Electric Vehicles, which includes trucks and cars.
Think Mini Cooper and Dyno Truck-esque in appearance and the visuals wrap themselves around you in a vehicle that is as quiet as tomb, save for the wind in your hair and the prognostication of these vehicles coming to Jamaica becomes clear after reading my article “Lithium-Ion Batteries and Electric Vehicles – Alternatives as 2012 Supply Crunch Nears”.
But it is the other phase of their vehicles production that has me most excited, so I hand you over to Rhone Kelly, the spokesperson on hand from Porteon Electric Vehicles, quote: “Our product is made to be assembled easily. Our method is to assemble the vehicle in the destination. That is our [business] production model, to decentralized have many assembly plants”.
Yes folks, you read that right!
This plucky Oregon start-up is a potential FDI (Foreign Direct Investor) in Jamaica, as they plans to manufacture and disassemble and reconstruct in the host country saves them on shipping costs, as they can send mass amounts of the parts needed to assemble the vehicles in containers as opposed to shipping the bulky vehicles from the one plant in Viewport, St. Lucia to Jamaica and other Caribbean islands to which they wish to export their product.
The specs of the vehicles on paper are not very impressive and nothing to write home about:
- Top Speed of 75 kph (47 mph)
- Maximum range of between 130 km to 160 km on a full charge
- Capable of charging via a 110VAC or 220VAC outlet
- Lightweight rust-proof Aluminum chassis and body
- Four-wheel Disk Hydraulic Braking Systems
- Electric Motors driving each wheel
- Three (3) year warranty
- Price: JA$1.4 million
So cross country trips are out, unless you happen to have a portable electric Generator handy. Irregardless, the product would still have a strong market among Jamaicans who wish to commute in a unique vehicle within the city limits of Kingston or Mobay, as the price is rather attractive for a brand new vehicle. Most likely too, the vehicle comes with a digital display that should keep the driver informed of their battery charge level and how far they can safely go before requiring a recharge.
As for Electricity consumption, the vehicle adds approximately JA$3000 to your monthly electricity bill and helps to consolidate your vehicle expenses. Which is decent, considering that a single charge can take you 130km compared to the weekly routine of topping up with gasoline at the gas station, which can easily run you bills into the thousands monthly.
Solar charging via solar panels integrated into the fiberglass or aluminum frame of the car may be a part of the final design taking a leaf from the 2011 Nissan Leaf . This as the 2011 Nissan Leaf has this design incorporated to take some of the power load off the batteries by maintaining the internal environmental of the vehicle, such as the Radio, Air Conditioning and Power Steering.
And yes, the vehicle may be controllable via your Blackberry, Apple iPhone or Google Android OS based smart phone such as a Samsung Galaxy Nexus.
To retail All-Electric Vehicles in Jamaica Porteon Electric Vehicles would need to team up with local Gasoline Retailers to built out Electric Charging stations for these vehicles or consider also investing in All-Electric Vehicle Solar Charging Stations located at each gas station, similar to those made by Honda in Japan. A partnership between themselves and ATL Automotive would also work well in their favour to retail the vehicles to Jamaicans interested in going Green on a shoestring!
This decentralization as it relates to the reconstruction of the disassembled vehicles in Jamaica also means that Jamaicans will also end up gaining valuable engineering skills in the construction and maintenance of All-Electric Vehicles and All-Electric Vehicle Solar Charging Stations. This as the automotive construction and fabrication skills already exist on the island in the form of HEART Trust NCTVET Certified graduates of the JAGAS German Automotive School.
Jamaica even has the potential to manufacture and export vehicles, with local start-up in the form of Marzouca owned Excel Motors in St. Elizabeth already having exported thirty (30) of their rugged fiberglass vehicles to the Government of Turks and Caicos.
To be strictly honest, due to the driving nature of Jamaicans, All-Electric Vehicles with Range Extender Technology would be best suited for Jamaica if Porteon Electric Vehicles wished to go for the mass market with their JA$1.4 million All-Electric Vehicle concept. Also, better specs in the vehicle wouldn’t hurt either, as currently, it appears more geared to the All-Electric Vehicle enthusiast or the Tourism market, as is the case with Excel Motors in the Turks and Caicos islands.
Otherwise, this is a very good opportunity on its way by 2012AD, and in this regard I wish Porteon Electric Vehicles all the best as it seeks to gain a toehold in the very competitive Automobile market in Jamaica.
Additionally, giving one to Yendi Philips, Beenie Man or even Usain Bolt would be sure to accelerate the sales of the Porteon Electric Vehicle One By One, Mavado and Laza Morgan Style as Jamaicans are nothing if not people trying to keep up with the Local Celebrities and the Jones’ in our most Northerly of Neighbours.
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