Electric Vehicles

Pure Electric Vehicles Go to Work in Government Fleets

May 2008, Green Fleet Magazine - Feature

by Paul Dexler - Also by this author

Pure electric vehicles (EVs) can cut much of the petroleum load from regular fleet vehicles, for uses such as parking enforcement and park patrol. Cruising slowly along a line of parked cars to check for meter violations, or unobtrusively patrolling a broad city park, quiet, pollution-free EVs can be ideal.

Electric Motor Scooters Gaining Acceptance

One of the first types of EVs put in service in government fleets is the electric motor scooter. A recent article in Newsday profiled the first purchase of electric motor scooters by the New York Police Department (NYPD). "The 36,000-officer NYPD has been looking for ways to retool its massive motor fleet to use less gas and inflict less harm on the environment. A handful of NYPD hybrid cars and so-called flex-fuel vehicles, which can run on both gasoline and ethanol, are already on the road."

According to the article, the NYPD began road testing four plug-in Vectrix scooters in January — part of a broader campaign to make the nation’s largest police department a greener one as well.

On Feb. 22, the City of Sacramento, Calif., announced it was placing four electric motor scooters in service as a test, saying the numbers could be expanded upon successful conclusion of the test.

The City of Long Beach, Calif., is also due shortly to take delivery of four Vectrix electric motor scooters to test.

Evolving the NEV Concept

While some car makers wrestle with the problems of producing highway-capable pure EVs, other manufacturers have been developing quiet, efficient two-wheeled EVs and low-speed neighborhood electric vehicles (NEVs), that can perform many of the functions of a light car or truck.

Regulations allowing NEVs evolved primarily from the desire of retirement community residents to utilize golf carts for local transportation within their communities. To qualify as a NEV, a vehicle must not be capable of driving faster than 30 mph, and is limited to roads on which the speed limit is 30 mph or less. 

SAFETY CONSIDERATIONS FOR NEVs

When it comes to safety, complaints are that NEVs lack some of the safety modifications required on vehicles for road use. NEV manufacturers answer that complaint by noting that the low-speed capability of these vehicles limits the forces that would be generated in a collision. The regulations that allow NEVs also exempt them from full highway safety equipment. While they may lack airbags and impact-absorbing bumpers, NEVs are equipped with safety glass, windshield wipers, headlights, taillights, brakes on all four wheels, and seat belts in all seating positions.

These vehicles have gained considerable use in retirement communities, college and industrial campuses, and similar areas in which their restricted speeds and relatively limited range (30 to 50 miles) are not a problem.

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