What is a Neighborhood Electric Vehicle?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 21 July 2019
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A neighborhood electric vehicle is a lightweight electric vehicle which is designed to be used in and around a neighborhood. Such vehicles are classified differently than cars, meeting a separate set of standards which is less stringent than that used for cars, making the vehicles low cost. Such vehicles can be used in communities where speed limits are kept relatively low, and on facilities like college campuses, military bases, and corporate campuses, to move people around with minimal environmental impact.

A typical neighborhood electric vehicle has a top speed of 25 miles per hour (40 kilometers per hour), and a very lightweight build which includes some basic safety features like running lights and seatbelts. Some lack doors, which can make them less safe than cars. The speed of a true neighborhood electric vehicle is restricted for safety; some models can be made to go faster, but they fall under the classification of “car” and require stricter safety standards.

In most nations, neighborhood electric vehicles are considered street legal on streets with low speed limits. Like other vehicles, they must comply with all prevailing traffic laws, and people can be ticketed for failing to operate the vehicle in a safe manner and for failing to use safety systems such as seat belts.


Such vehicles can include seating for various numbers of people, along with some storage space. Neighborhood electric vehicles are designed to be flexible so that they can be taken on shopping trips, used around town for errands, and so forth. They are recharged by plugging into a regular outlet which charges the onboard batteries, providing varying lengths of operating time, depending on the vehicle and the designer.

Such vehicles can be used in a variety of creative ways. For example, a two car household could replace one car with a neighborhood electric vehicle which can be used for running errands around town with minimal environmental impact. Communities could also opt to keep a collective pool of such vehicles for transport around the community, as seen in gated communities and other campuses. Neighborhood electric vehicles are also used for things like safety patrols and parking enforcement, where they replace polluting and resource-wasting patrol cars.

Numerous companies manufacture neighborhood electric vehicles of various sizes and styles. Such vehicles can be purchased from dealers or directly from the manufacturer, and people are usually allowed to order some modifications to their neighborhood electric vehicle, such as various color schemes and extra features like panniers for storage.



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