Use a Neighborhood Electric Vehicle for Short Trips

| October/November 2006

neighborhood electric vehicle, electric vehicle, electric powered vehicle, gem electric vehicle


If you just need a vehicle for short trips around your neighborhood, then you might consider buying a 'neighborhood electric vehicle,' or NEV. In most states, these 'carlets' can legally travel on public roads with speed limits of 35 mph or less.

? These small, quiet and inexpensive cars can travel 25 mph for up to 30 miles before their lead-acid batteries must be recharged. To keep the batteries charged, you must plug in the NEV.

? The estimated annual cost to drive an NEV 100 miles a week (at 8 cents per kilowatt-hour) is only about $58.

? NEVs (as well as all electric vehicles) are marvelously energy-efficient: More than 90 percent of the energy imparted to the motor is turned into useful work; more than 85 percent of the energy used to charge the batteries is stored effectively. In contrast, the maximum theoretical efficiency of the typical gas engine is about 30 percent; in diesel engines it is 35 percent. This means that only a tiny fraction of that energy in a gallon of gas actually ends up doing useful work ? the rest is wasted as heat.

So next time you need to buy an energy-efficient vehicle for short trips around town, give NEVs a look ? you might decide they are the perfect choice.

Some NEV manufacturers:
? Global Electric Motorcar (GEM)
? Cart-Rite
? Columbia ParCar
? Dynasty Electric Car

thomas bailey
6/22/2009 6:44:01 AM

Short trips around the neighborhood? I'd rather walk the distances involved. For somewhat longer distances, I go for the bike. I could easily ride a bike a distance that would require the car to be recharged twice, three, maybe even four times. My longest bike ride was about 80 miles, from Sunnyvale to San Francisco and back.

rik kne
2/21/2007 12:00:00 AM

I don't see any savings in reality here on the electric vehicles. The actual electric rates in Massachusetts are double. Yes Double! So your cost of 100 miles at .16 is actually $116.00 not $58.00. My Toyota tacoma gets 300 miles at a cost of $35.00 per week. Where are these .08 cent rates in the mideast? Do not forget to add in all the taxes that are based on consumption. These are the real rates. This is the reason you do not see any of these vehicles in this state. There is no efficency in owning an electrical vehicle here. I cannot imagine what the insurance company would charge to put this on the road and the excise tax also puts these out of reach if you have to maintain multiple vehicles.

janice black
11/2/2006 12:00:00 AM

Please be aware that quiet vehicles like these and some of the new hybrids pose an extra hazard to pedestrians. (My teenage son recently pointed this out to me after having narrowly avoided being run down by one!) Most of us have acquired a lifetime habit of listening for vehicles as well as watching for them, but the newer, quieter vehicles like this simply cannot be heard as they approach. Please, whether you are driving one or walking, remember to exercise extra caution!

margalo ashley-farrand
10/6/2006 12:00:00 AM

I have a 2006 Prius, and I just discovered that I can set the gearshift on B for battery and travel short distances on that. It works also if you are out of gas to go on battery until you find a gas station. One would not want to travel on it too much, as draining the entire battery would be a real mistake, but a few miles works fine. That infomation is not in the car's manual at all.

10/3/2006 12:00:00 AM

Great article! I think neighborhood electric vehicles would be a great idea, also, for people in small towns. Municipal utilities could even become dealers or support private dealers in their town. It might help keep shoppers in the local commnunity. Local economic development officials might see the value in this as well.

claire trafford-miller
10/3/2006 12:00:00 AM

We moved down here to the WildWest back in 2000; since I hate driving anyway,I tried to restrict my driving severely, but we live miles from anywhere.... In our tiny town, I hated to start up my nice little Mitsu Expo just to go the 4 long blocks to work, or to the P.O. or the bank, etc. After we test drove a new Gemcar in Tucson, we wanted one, but we thought the price was outrageous. So I started watching eBay, and finally found a used one in Phoenix. Only six years old, only 20 miles on it, and we thought it would be perfect for just running around this tiny golf course community of ours. All we needed to do was buy new batteries,and recycle the old ones, and away we went. It has been a wonderful experience, and I sure have cut those gas bills down. Plus it is So much fun to drive!! Go ahead and try it; if you live in a small town it makes so much sense!

john parfitt
10/3/2006 12:00:00 AM

Not quite as cheap or attractive as all that - first cost is unreasonably high because of small-scale production, also the traction batteries have a limited life and are expensive to replace. And how is the electricity produced that's used to charge them up? In the UK it will be from natural gas, oil, coal or atomic energy, same old diminishing polluting stuff! And 25 miles before they have to be recharged isn't much. Most of us will still have to buy and keep a gasoline or diesel-powered vehicle taxed, insured and fueled for longer trips.

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