Neighborhood Electric Cars

Neighborhood Electric Cars, Urban Electric Vehicles, City Cars, Three Wheelers...? HELP!!

Relax! Welcome to the neighborhood. (Sorry, I had to go there, didn't I?: )

The Neighborhood Electric Vehicle, aka NEV, is a category invented by NHTSA, or the National Highway Traffic Safety Association.


Here's what you need to know:

  • Speed: These don't go smokin' fast, but they're not golf carts, either. (Okay, some of them ARE golf carts. But they're street legal!) The "true" Neighborhood electric cars go 20-25 mph and no faster. The three-wheeled enclosed "city cars" go up to 45 mph.
  • Street Legal: It's okay to drive it on ordinary (35mph posted) streets, at least, in most states. Just stay off the freeway ; )
  • Safety: Are neighborhood electric cars really SAFE out there with the Hummers? Read my report on an "unplanned meeting" between a ZENN and a Toyota Sequoia.
plug and play EV!
  • 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: It costs from 1 to 3 cents a mile to operate them, depending on the price of electricity per kilowatt-hour in your neck of the woods.
  • Purchase Price: Less than your average fossil-fuel-gobbler, that's for sure! About 15k.
  • Tax Credits: Just like the electric car itself, the once-dead federal tax credit for electric cars has come back to life! Read about the EV tax credit here.

  • Zap Electric Cars

    zap xebra

    The Zap Xebra sedan painted in black and white zebra stripes is just about the cutest thing EVER.

    It's not a neighborhood electric car because it's only got three wheels (but don't worry, it's not going to fall over!) and it actually gets up to 40 mph.

    Xebras are city-class three wheelers, legally akin to MOTORCYCLES.

    • You can license it like a motorcycle (cheaper!);
    • You can get on the ferry before the cars;
    • You can park in motorcycle parking places;
    • You can do lane-splitting in some states, which moves you through traffic quicker;
    • You can use your ordinary car driver's license to drive it;
    • It typically goes faster than Neighborhood Electric Vehicles, which must be able to go no faster than 25mph by law;
    solar powered NEV

    ...and get this:

    It comes in a solar panel version called Zap Xebra Zero and a pickup truck version, too.

    Hey, is the Xebra with a solar panel just a gimmick, or a serious solar powered car?

    Follow the link to read my article about it!

    If you want a safe, affordable, ADORABLE electric car - zebra stripes or not - from a company with a lot of'll want to look into these.

    MM NmG Sparrow Electric Car

    corbin sparrows

    This stands for Myers Motors No more Gas.

    (Doesn't that about say it all?)

    This car, by the way, is commonly referred to as a Sparrow, or the Corbin Sparrow.

    It's the same CAR; it's just that Myers Motors acquired Sparrow (the original company) or somesuch thing. This happens quite a bit, as it turns out, because times have been tough in the electric car business.

    The important thing is...

    ...they're in production so they're available...ish..., they're adorable, and also three-wheeled city cars.
    YEAH, baby!; )

    What else?

    • They're fast. 75mph top speed.
    • Comes with power windows, a cd player, and tilt steering wheel.
    • There's room for a backpack, a rolling laptop case, or a cat carrier behind the driver...but apparently not all three.

    If you've got a dash of double-o-seven and need for speed, this could be your car.

    Zenn Electric Car

    zenns in the street

    This actually is a four-wheeled car, unlike the two I just introduced to you.

    It's a luxury sedan, holds two people and some stuff, and goes not as fast as the three-wheelers do: A true neighborhood electric vehicle, but of the fairly posh variety.

    This is how the company puts it:

    Safety first, performance first, comfort first. (We don't believe in second place.)

    Zenn Motor Company gets these neighborhood electric cars originally in France, and then sends them through Canada (where it gets converted from gas to electric) to the United States. You'd think all this shipping and importing and converting might make it expensive, but it's NOT. It's on the same scale as the rest.

    ZENN stands for...

    Zero Emissions, No Noise.

    These look very nice inside, quite luxurious. The cockpit looks just like any other (nice, new) car.

    If you've outgrown your zebra-stripe years - ahem - these neighborhood electric cars might be the ones that float your boat.; )

    Might-E Truck

    might e truck

    The Might-E Truck is a mid-sized electric work truck built by Canadian Electric Vehicles. It goes 25 miles an hour, like all NEVs can, but it really expands the idea of what is possible in an NEV, as well.

    These are being used as mainenance and gardening vehicles, hazmat, light garbage trucks, etc. They save a ton of emissions, and a ton of maintenance costs.

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