Bermis are on the road. The island’s newest electric car has been licensed by the Transport Control Department, and customers can now buy the nifty runarounds.
Mike Swan, the entrepreneur who brought the pocket-sized vehicles to the island, is hopeful that the cars will also soon be part of the island’s vehicle rental market.
“We have been approached by some of the major hotels and smaller bed-and-breakfast properties. They are interested in having the Bermi as an option for guests. There is a definite demand for this car,” said Mr Swan, who while driving one of the cars has been approached by visitors asking if they can rent it.
He has also had e-mail enquiries from people overseas, and from international business companies on the island, asking about the availability of the Bermis.
At present the only vehicles available for rental in Bermuda are auxiliary bikes and the electric Twizy minicars that were introduced earlier this year.
Mr Swan, who runs Localmotion, believes there is room for more competition. And with the two versions of the Bermi there are additional features on offer such as rear-view cameras, air conditioner, electric windows, sunroof and radio. The larger of the two models, the Bermi 400, also has power steering.
“It is a quiet ride, and it is safer than a bike. There has been a lot of interest from expats, single mothers, single guys, older people, and those who use a bike for their job,” said Mr Swan.
His ambition to enter the vehicle rental market with the vehicles is on hold at the moment while Government completes a transportation survey. Mr Swan hopes the survey will be finished by April, and that he then gets a green light to rent Bermis.
“I want to give people more than one option [of rental minicar].”
The vehicles can be bought from Localmotion, on Happy Valley Road, with prices ranging from $14,800 to $16,900.
TCD has given the vehicle a Class A designation. The larger of the two models, the Bermi 400, has seats for four people and is 8.3 feet long, and 4.2 feet high. The two-seater Bermi 200 is one foot shorter in length.
The compact size has advantages when it comes to finding a parking slot. Mr Swan said: “You can park it almost anywhere and get into places that you couldn’t with a full size car.”
The vehicles can be charged from a 110v or 220v supply. Using the first option, which matches the standard domestic supply, it would take about eight hours to fully recharge the car’s battery from empty. The higher voltage option would halve the charging time.
Mr Swan estimates that on a full charge the Bermi 400 can cover about 55 miles in Bermuda’s road environment, while the lighter Bermi 200 would manage between 60 and 65 miles.
Those distances can be improved to around 80 miles if the standard maintenance-free lead battery is swapped for a lithium model, at an additional cost of about $3,000.
Solar panels can be added to the roof, providing a charge boost for an extra six to 12 miles.
The cars come in a variety of colours, including red, blue and brown.
Localmotion has a website at www.localmotion.bm, and can be contacted on 292-4552