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neighborhood electric vehicle (NEV)

A neighborhood electric vehicle (NEV) is a battery-electric car that is capable of traveling at a maximum speed of 25 miles per hour (mph) and has a maximum loaded weight of 3,000 lbs. Included under the United States Department of Transportation (USDOT) classification of low-speed vehicles (LSVs), NEVs can be legally operated on roads where the posted speed limit is 35 mph or less and can cross streets that are posted with a 45-mph limit or less.

As with other road-worthy vehicles, NEVs must be titled and registered; the driver needs a license, the vehicle must be insured and the driver and is expected to obey all traffic laws. NEVs typically cost much less to buy and operate than full-sized electric and gasoline-powered cars. These four-wheeled vehicles, which rely on battery packs that can be recharged by plugging into a standard outlet or electric vehicle charging station, do not produce tailpipe emissions. When recharged from clean energy sources, including solar or wind power, NEVs do not produce greenhouse gas emissions.

Because of their small size and spare design, many NEVS have limited safety equipment, but all are required to have seat belts, running lights, headlights, brake lights, reflectors, rear-view mirrors and turn signals. Some states, such as New York, mandate windshield wipers, window defrosters, speedometers, odometers and backup lights. Other requirements vary state by state. 

NEVs typically cost less than $10,000 and can have a driving range of more than 50 miles per charge. The NEV market is expected to grow exponentially in urban areas where parking is limited, as well as in small towns and communities where it is more cost-effective to run errands in an electric vehicle. 

This was last updated in April 2018

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