Neighborhood Electric Vehicles (NEVs) are one-to four-passenger, three- or four-wheeled vehicles that, when empty, weigh 2,200 pounds or less. They are designed for low-speed use in neighborhoods and urban areas, to run errands, commute to and from work or school, and to make small local deliveries. Because NEVs are limited in their application, a federal standard was created classifying NEVs as low-speed vehicles.
According to this standard, low-speed vehicles are four-wheeled vehicles that can travel no faster than 25 miles per hour. California's Vehicle Codes limit these vehicles to operation on streets with posted speed limits of 35 mph or less.
Some of the major auto companies have begun to develop NEVs that can travel up to 55 mph. This may appeal to some consumers who may need to occasionally travel freeways.
A major demonstration of NEVs - called "Station Cars" - was completed in 1999 in the San Francisco Bay Area. About 70 commuters used small battery-powered electric cars between home and mass transit stations, or between mass transit stations and workplaces. They also used the vehicles for errands during the day or for short trips evening and weekends.
Station cars might become an integrated, mobility system, providing electric vehicles for trips to mass transit and other stations. A station could be at any point that requires high and regular access such as a college campus, a business park, an airport, or a dense residential area.
Besides operating as station cars, NEVs can be used in other places as well. In Palm Springs, California, NEVs are used as police patrol cars in enclosed neighborhoods. Plans are also underway to incorporate NEVs as part of Palm Springs' local government fleet.
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