Friday, March 13, 2009

Blog #9 Neighborhood Electric Vehicles

What are NEVs?
Neighborhood electric vehicles (NEVs) are compact, one to four-passenger vehicles powered by rechargeable batteries and electric motors. NEVs are designed for drivers traveling short distances at slow speeds where traffic, parking, and air pollution may be concerns. An NEV is a cost-effective solution to these problems because it is more compact than a conventional vehicle, requiring less space to park and less space on the road. An NEV is a zero emission vehicle and produces no tailpipe or evaporative emissions, and it can recharge by simply plugging into a standard 110-volt outlet.

Is an NEV the Right Choice for You?
Much of the daily travel that occurs in the United States consists of single occupant cars driving short distances on local roads at speeds below 35mph. The cars and trucks that most Americans use to drive these short distances are designed to carry several passengers, haul significant loads, and travel at speeds of 55 mph or greater. If your daily travel consists of a short commute to work or school, or minor trips to run errands or pick up groceries, an NEV may be the right choice for you. Imagine dropping the kids of at school at White Hill, stopping at the grocery store in downtown Fairfax, and running to San Rafael to do a few errands all in an affordable, quiet, zero emissions vehicle.

Where can I drive my NEV?
NEVs are legal on all streets where the posted speed limit is 35 MPH or less in the same travel lane as cars. They are legal where posted speed limits are over 35 MPH only where a special 7 foot dedicated lane of travel is available. This means that NEVs are legal in the entire Town of Fairfax and much of the Ross Valley on all existing streets!! The law requires all NEVs to have seat belts, headlights, blinkers, and most of the devices for being street legal. An "NEV Route" sign will be installed on selected streets in Fairfax. For more information on NEVs please link to

Town Council Support

The Town Council, at its February 4, 2009 Town Council Meeting directed staff to promote and encourage the use of NEVs in Fairfax. Specifically, I promised the Council I would post information on the Town Manager Blog. There will also be information sent to all media outlets.

NEV Benefits:
· Emissions: Although some pollutants may be generated in electricity production, NEVs are zero emission vehicles, meaning they produce no tailpipe or evaporative emissions that contribute to air pollution and global warming.
· Traffic: NEVs are smaller and take up less space on the road, so they help reduce traffic congestion.
· Price: At an average of 2-3 cents per kilowatt-hour, the cost of operation is considerably less then gasoline.
· Speed: On average, the "true" Neighborhood electric cars go 20-25 mph, with a few capable of speeds up to 35 mph. The three-wheeled enclosed "city cars" go up to 45 mph.
· Street Legal: It's okay to drive it on all 35mph posted streets (everywhere within Fairfax city limits)
· Safety: All Street Legal brands of NEV’s meet the National Highway Traffic Safety Association’s safety requirements, and while crash tests show that when collisions are concerned, size does matter, the heavy batteries located on the bottom of the NEV’s tend to keep them upright during collisions, and in car to car collision tests, safety measures in place such as internal impact bars hold up well.
· Charging: They plug into a standard 110v outlet (like the one where you plug in your toaster, for example), although there are 220v options (your clothes dryer) for most of them so you can recharge them quicker. Generally it takes 6-8 hours to recharge them using 110v, and half that on 220v.
· Operating Costs: NEV’s are affordable to operate, on average, it costs 2 to 3 cents a mile
· Purchase Price: Price varies considerably depending on model and options selected, but the price range for new NEV’s is $7000 - $35,000 with most vehicles somewhere between $10,000 and $12,000. There is also a booming used market for NEV’s with significant savings to the consumer.
· Tax Credits: The federal tax credit is back! On February 17, 2009, President Obama signed a bill allocating $5 billion for electric car tax credits. All electric vehicles, including 3 and 4 wheel NEV’s are eligible for tax credit of 10% of the purchase price! More information about Tax credits available at

Types of Neighborhood Electric Vehicles
There are many manufactures and types of NEV’s, and as demand continues to grow, more and more will become available. The following is a list of the current most popular brands, and their closets dealers.

American Custom Golf Carts:

American Custom golf carts specializes in luxury and custom NEV’s. They make everything from the latest 2009 Cadillac Escalade, customizable, and available in 3 colors to, a vintage style California Roadster, to a Hummer H3. Prices range from $9,000 to $25,000 depending on the model and options. More information available at

Closest Dealer:
Mini Rods
2840 Broadway
Oakland, CA 94611
(510) 251-9510

Columbia PARCAR

Available in two models, the Columbia Eagle and Summit, and in configurations for two or four passengers, Columbia NEV’s will move you, your friends, your family, and your stuff anywhere you want to go. The Eagle’s 48-volt system is truly unique; instead of the six 8-volt batteries most of our competitors use, Columbia vehicles use eight 6-volt batteries which provides extended run time and better hill climbing ability, in recent independent testing against leading competitors, Columbia’s 48-volt system out-ran them all. Prices range from $9,500 to $12,000. More information available at

Closest Dealer:
George Stark Golf Cars
8131 Alpine Ave.
Sacramento, CA 95826

Dynasty Neighborhood Electric Vehicles

Dynasty NEV’s offer 5 models, all of which have an aluminum frame with chassis made of molded fiberglass. They are powered by flooded lead-acid batteries with an optional choice of Dekaw gel cell batteries, and are recharged with an on board Delta-Q battery charger, which takes about 12 hours. Dynasty NEV’s range in price from $14,000 to $25,000. More information available at

Closest Dealer:
The Electric Car Company of Long Beach
(866) 969-4545

Global Electric Motorcars (GEM)

Global Electric Motorcars is part of the Chrysler group and is the market leader in NEVs. With a top speed of 25 mph, GEM cars have a range of up to 30 miles on a charge and are great for traveling around neighborhoods, city centers or job sites. GEM offers 3 car style models able to carry from 2 – 6 passengers. GEM vehicles are battery-electric, operate on a 72-volt battery system and plug into a standard 110-volt outlet. They have many other customizable, optional extras, making them a very flexible vehicle. They are very keenly priced, ranging from approximately $7500 to $13,500. More information available at

Closest Dealer:
San Francisco Chrysler Jeep GEM
475 South Van Ness Ave
San Francisco CA 94103
Phone: 415-431-3892

The Kurrent

Produced by the American Electric Vehicle Company, the Kurrent is approved to drive up to 35 miles per hour, and is powered by four 12-volt lead-gel sealed batteries forming a 48-volt system. When fully charged, the Kurrent can drive for 35 to 40 miles, depending on your personal driving habits. To recharge, simply plug the Kurrent’s conveniently stowed power cord into any standard 110-volt outlet, if the battery is completely empty it takes 8 hours to recharge. Prices start at $9,800. More information available at,

Closest dealer:
Green Car Company
1129 8th St. Kirkland WA 98034.

Zap Car:

Technically not a NEV, but a motor scooter because of its unique 3 wheel design; ZAP has been a world leader for electric and advanced technology vehicles since 1994. Zap makes 6 models ranging from utilitarian to sporty; four of their vehicles use their unique 3-wheel design, and the Xebra Zero is fitted with a solar panel on its roof! ZAP is currently the only neighborhood electric vehicle on the market capable of sustaining speeds over 35 MPH. Prices range from $11,500 - $35,000. More information available at

Closest Dealer:
ZAP of Marin
5784 Paradise Drive
Corte Madera, CA 94925
(415) 924-0327

ZENN (Zero Emissions No Noise)

The Zenn is a very normal looking 4-wheeler, hatchback, which carries two passengers. It has a comfortable interior and high performance engine with regenerative braking. It is basically a high-spec Neighborhood Electric Vehicle that looks and feels like a normal car. Its maximum speed is 25 miles per hour, has a range of 30-34 miles and works off lead-acid batteries. They can be 80% recharged in only three hours. Price ranges from $11,000 to $13,000. More information available at
Closest Dealer:
EcoMotors, LLC
1270 Petaluma Blvd. North
Petaluma, California
Tel: 707-778-2055