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PHOTO CAPTION: GEM neighborhood electric vehicle or NEV

NEV's Gaining Popularity

Golf cars and neighborhood electric vehicles or NEVs are becoming popular alternatives in planned communities.

Published: 30-Sep-2015

The central Florida planned community, The Villages, boosts 90 miles of dedicated low-speed vehicle lanes and paths, supporting 50,000 golf cars and their slightly faster counterpart NEVs, short for neighborhood electric vehicles. So popular are these small, often electrically-powered vehicles, that residents use them for a third of all their trips.

According to CityLabs:

"Dozens of communities have outlined schemes to integrate carts and similarly sized vehicles (also called Neighborhood Electric Vehicles, or NEVs... into their transportation networks. In the Coachella Valley east of Los Angeles, NEVs are a regular sight on the streets of Palm Springs or Rancho Mirage, and even at the McDonald’s drive-through. In Greenville, South Carolina, residents use NEVs to visit neighbors, go to the farmer’s market, or catch the Greenville Drive, the local minor-league team."

In fact, it is the slow, open nature of these vehicles, that enhances their appeal, especially in warm-weather climates, allowing neighbors to more easily interact with each other. Notes the Greenville News, “It’s impossible to deny what fun these little vehicles seem to be and how they have served to better connect neighbors in a busy world.” For many, they are the transportation equivalent of an iPad, halfway between an iPhone and the full laptop.

Peachtree City, south of Atlanta, has some 13,000 residents and 11,000 NEVs and golf cars. Where the latter has a top speed of 15 mph, NEVs are allowed to go 25 mph, but they also must have seatbelts, lights, turn signals, safety glass windshields and wipers. They typically run between $7,000 to $8,000, about double the price of a conventional golf cart.

The communities of the Coachella Valley in California are discussing a $100 million project to build a 45-mile network of low-speed paths for bicycles and NEVs. In Fayetteville, Arkansas, SÜMO is using them for its community carshare system.

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