Electric Vehicles

Can Neighborhood Electric Vehicles Work for Your Fleet?

September 2008, Green Fleet Magazine - Feature

by Mike Guardabascio & Chris Brown


From inner city deliveries andcross-campus transport to warehouse maintenance work and community patrols, neighborhood electric vehicles (NEVs) target the task with the right type of vehicle.

But with a built-in set of limitations, can they work for your fleet? The following questions and their answers will help you decide.


What is an EV exactly, and what can I buy now?

An EV’s power comes from electricity supplied by a rechargeable battery. Almost all EVs currently available are classified as low-speed vehicles (LSVs) and are commonly termed NEVs.

These vehicles are restricted to a top speed of 25 mph and are legal on most U.S. streets with posted speed limits of up to 35 mph.

The latest NEVs hold a charge for 30 to 60 miles and run on an array of deep-cycle lead-acid batteries, similar to car batteries. Most can be fully recharged with a standard 120-volt outlet in seven to 12 hours.


Why should I consider NEVs for my fleet?

Environmental benefits: NEVs offer emissions-free operation, although if recharged from an electric power grid that burns only coal, a NEV lifecycle accounts for about 7 lbs. CO2 emissions over 25 miles. A standard gas-powered vehicle emits 22 lbs. of CO2 in similar circumstances.

Inherently low operating costs: Fully recharging an NEV to run 30 to 60 miles costs less than $1. NEVs cost little to maintain relative to gasoline-powered vehicles.

Flexibility of use: NEVs are allowed access inside buildings and on sidewalks where gasoline-powered vehicles can’t travel. They fit the vehicle to the task when a larger, gasoline-powered vehicle is overkill.


What types of NEVs are on the market?

Today’s NEVs have a range of customizable body types and engine capabilities. Passenger carrier models range from two to eight seats with storage upgrades. Industrial-use models can be equipped with stake beds, enclosed cargo carriers, toolboxes and ladder racks.

To satisfy National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) safety criteria for street operation, NEVs are equipped with three-point seat belts, windshields and windshield wipers, running lights, headlights, brake lights, reflectors, rear view mirrors, and turn signals.

Most NEVs are doorless, open-air units, though a market is being established for EVs that more closely resemble cars for a wider variety of applications and all-season use, with fully enclosed aluminum alloy frames, sophisticated batteries, longer charges and features such as heat, air conditioning and audio systems.

Major manufacturers include Chrysler-owned Global Electric Motor Cars (GEM), ZAP, ZENN, Columbia ParCar, Dynasty Electric Car, and Miles Electric Vehicles, to name a few.


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