Saturday, May 30, 2009

Neighbourhood Electric Vehicle

A Neighborhood Electric Vehicle (NEV) is a United States Department of Transportation classification for speed-limited battery electric vehicles. The NEV provides the driver with an alternative to expensive fossil fuels and an opportunity to take charge of their carbon emissions. The NEV operates on only a fraction of the fossil fuels as a standard vehicle by plugging into a standard outlet at home. By using solar or wind power to generate the electricity for these vehicles, they have to the potential to run using no fossil fuel.

NEV is a federally-approved street-legal vehicle classification which came into existence in 1998 under Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 500 (FMVSS 500). The vehicle classification is referred to as "low-speed vehicle" within Federal regulations.

NEVs are defined as a four-wheeled motor vehicle that has a gross vehicle weight rating of less than 3,000 pounds (1,400 kg) and a top speed of between 20 mph (32 km/h) to 25 mph (40 km/h). Those states that authorize NEVs generally restrict their operation to streets with a maximum speed limit of 35 mph (56 km/h) or 45 mph (72 km/h). Because of federal law, car dealers cannot legally sell the vehicles to go faster than 25 mph (40 km/h), but the buyer can easily modify the car to go 35 mph (56 km/h). However, if modified to exceed 25mph, the vehicle then becomes subject to safety requirements of passenger cars. 

These speed restrictions, combined with a typical driving range of Template:Convert/30 per charge and a typical three-year battery durability, are required because of a lack of federally mandated safety equipment and features which NEVs can not accommodate because of their design. To satisfy federal safety requirements for manufacturers, NEVs must be equipped with three-point seat belts or a lap belt,windshield wipers are not required, running lights, headlights, brake lights, reflectors, rear view mirrors, and turn signals. In many cases, doors may be optional, crash protection from other vehicles is partially met compared to other non motorized transport such as bicycles because of the use of seat belts.

State regulations
Regulations for operating an NEV vary by state. However, the Federal Government preempts states and local governments from requiring safety equipment beyond Standard 571.500. Generally, they must be registered, and the driver must be licensed. Because airbags are not required the NEV cannot normally travel on highways or freeways. NEVs in many states are restricted to roads with a speed limit of 35 mph (56 km/h) or less.

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