Renters of electric minicars in Bermuda now have a more muscular option to consider.
Rugged Rentals has launched, offering the Hummer HXT, an electric twist on the iconic American vehicle, with a restricted top speed for safety purposes, and a range of 70 to 90 miles on a single charge.
The company is co-owned by Tallent J. Clark, who has left a position with HSBC to work full time in the business, and Justin Robinson, who is an underwriter with BF&M. Both men say they have long harboured entrepreneurial ambitions.
Rugged has eight vehicles on-island, with a further ten expected by the end of the year. The owners say their full complement of 50 vehicles will be here by the end of March.
The vehicles arrived in Bermuda a month ago, and have been turning heads ever since, Mr Clark said.
“Anyone who passes in their vehicle turns to point and look,” he said. “When you park on the street, or at the beach, everywhere we go, the vehicle is a magnet. Everyone wants to see what they have to offer.”
The fleet was fully booked for Cup Match weekend.
“Before we launched, we took the vehicles out for a couple of weekends to let people see them, feel them, sit in them and that, coupled with social media, has meant that demand has been phenomenal,” Mr Clark said.
Mr Robinson added: “We are having to turn people away already, and that’s with eight vehicles. We need to get more vehicles here.”
He said part of the appeal of the Hummers is that they are more “car-like” than other electric vehicles.
“They are a more sturdy, rugged, and spacious vehicle. Everyone who sits in one is in awe that they are so much more spacious.”
While Mr Clark added: “The comfort of them is also attractive. People want to cruise in style, especially Bermudians. They want to be seen.”
Mr Clark and Mr Robinson said the market is both local and visitor. Already, overseas travel agencies have been in touch to discuss how to rent the vehicles.
Individual vehicles are available, or can be rented as a fleet, pending availability. “We have had enquiries about fleet rentals,” Mr Robinson said. “Corporates have been in touch to discuss team-building events, taking the fleet for a scavenger hunt, or just to have a fun day in them.”
The left-hand drive vehicles are equipped with side-by-side leather seating, a Pioneer brand radio with auxiliary jack, removable canvas top, a lithium-ion battery, a defogger, and an eco-drive feature to limit battery usage and speed. Vehicles arriving in the next shipment will have air conditioning, Mr Clark said.
The vehicles can be charged at 110 volts, which corresponds with most household outlets, or 220 volts. Rugged’s 220-volt charging network will be fully operational within two months, Mr Clark said. Until then, local renters can charge the vehicles at home, if required. It takes six to eight hours to charge the battery on 110 volts, he says, and half that time for a 220-volt charge.
Mr Clark invited private vendors, including Airbnb property owners, to contact Rugged regarding provision of a complimentary charging station.
Rugged’s rental location at Tiger Bay in St George’s will be operational this week, according the owners, who expect to set up additional rental sites as the fleet grows.
Bookings will eventually be possible via Rugged’s website at www.ruggedrentalsbda.com. Until then, bookings can be made by phone, e-mail, or in person.
Rugged is the first company to benefit from the $88 million Bermuda Infrastructure Fund, which was set up last year to stimulate economic activity and create jobs.
“We are appreciative of the administration to start the Bermuda fund to allow young locals the opportunity for job creation,” said Mr Clark, who turns 36 today.
He anticipates that Rugged will have 12 full-time staff and five part-time workers once the company has a full complement of vehicles.
• Hummer HXTs are available for $170 per day, which includes insurance. For more information, or to make a booking, call 705-RENT (7368), or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org