The new Eli Zero NEV from Eli Electric Vehicles is expected to reach market in late 2018 and is positioned as an urban transportation solution and future mobility concept.
My colleague Stephen Metzger recently wrote a piece on how gated communities could serve as an excellent incubator for testing future mobility systems. These systems include on-demand vehicles, self-driving and autonomous driving technology, ride-sharing systems, and new public transport options. Future mobility concepts typically feature electric vehicles being used in urban environments. He argues that the urban environment presents a myriad of obstacles and complexities for future mobility to overcome and solve, but gated communities offer a simpler but still useful testing ground for future mobility concepts.
Some of the advantages for gated communities include:
A better planned transportation environment into which mobility concepts can more easily be introduced
Population already using or conditioned to small, electric vehicles like golf cars and LSVs
Portion of the population that cannot drive themselves and could benefit from greater mobility
The article concludes with some examples of new small, electric vehicles with an eye towards future mobility that are entering or trying to break into the market.
A story about LSV ordinances in Southern Illinois communities reveals a common pattern of how these laws are passed. It often starts with a municipality that sets the precedent and can be the test case for other municipalities in the area. Once other communities see that the ordinance can have a positive impact for residents, it can provide a catalyst and an easier sell in other nearby cities. Initially, there was a fair amount of pushback against these ordinances because of safety concerns, particularly the mixing of higher speed traffic with low speed vehicles. In part, this stemmed from a lack of safety data related to the use of LSVs in these environments. But once the initial adopters started instituting these ordinances, other communities could make a better assessment of both the pros and cons of allowing LSVs on local streets.
This may point to how to expand the LSV market for personal transportation. If either manufacturers and/or local dealers wanted to build an LSV market, they may want to take the approach of identifying the municipality in a particular area most agreeable to passing an ordinance and use it as a test case. They could then use it as an example to lobby nearby municipalities to do the same. In many cases, the impetus also starts with local residents who want an LSV option. Bringing them into the process would help as well. While it could take some time, once momentum built in a certain area, that micro market could expand quickly. Learn more: Thesouthern.com
Concept drawing for multi-use parkway between Palms Springs and Coachella in California
The Coachella Valley Association of Governments presented new concept drawings for a 52 mile multi-use parkway for pedestrians, cyclists and LSVs/NEVs. Running along the Whitewater River wash between Palm Springs to Coachella, the drawings depict a parkway with “interactive kiosks where people would be able to see the trail’s real-time impacts on air quality and greenhouse gases and night-time laser light shows that would be motion-activated as users walked or cycled by.” Shade structures and color accents are key parts of the design. The concept also includes different configurations for the parkway as it conforms to the changing landscape along the 52 mile route. There has been mixed reaction to the parkway and some gated communities and country clubs would rather not have the project run through their properties. The exact route is still being worked out with potential alternatives for bypassing these properties being considered. In general, the cycling community is behind the project, if not enthusiastically. CVAG has pitched the project with an $80 million price tag — $70 million for construction and $10 million for operation and maintenance. Federal and state transportation and air quality funds will help fund the project. Learn more: Mydesert.com
Federal budget battles have led to the expiration of a number of electric vehicle related tax credits. The most important tax credit for the STOV market was the tax credit for plug-in electric vehicles which applied to LSVs. The credit was worth 10% of the cost of the vehicle up to $2,500. A tax credit for installing electric vehicle recharging stations also expired. While these type of tax credits are frequently renewed with an added provision to the budget bill, the disputes over the budget that went down to the deadline altered the usual process. There is a possibility that some of the tax credits could be re-instated at a later date, which has occurred with other credits in the past, but there has been no reports of that happening. Learn more: Torquenews.com
The AARP Public Policy Institute recently released a research study on LSV and golf car usage. The purpose of the study is “...to assess current trends and identify key issues and best practices for safely accommodating golf carts and low-speed vehicles (LSVs), particularly neighborhood electric vehicles (NEVs), within community transportation networks.” The Institute hopes the study will provide some guidance for municipal planners and law enforcement officials trying to integrate the vehicles into their local transportation networks. The study includes four case studies of LSV and golf car usage in The Villages, Florida, Peachtree City, Georgia, Western Riverside County, California and Linton, Indiana. Learn more: AARP.org
Electronics Technicians Association International (ETA) has completed their new Electric Vehicle Drivetrain Specialist (EVDS) certification. The competencies for the certification provides for three levels of expertise: Apprentice, Specialist, and Master Technician. The ETA expects the certification to provide a blueprint for educators developing curriculum. They describe the certification content as follows:
In addition to understanding safe working practices in areas such as Personal Protection Equipment and High Voltage Electrical Safety, the EVDS will be required to properly; Identify major components of EV systems; Identify EV types and characteristics; Install basic EV components; Understand EV performance characteristics; Understand EV systems and operating standards; Diagnose and resolve High Voltage System problems and installation concerns. Additionally, ETA requires that the above areas will be proven through the traditional theory based examination as well as a required hands-on skills component.
The Jordanian government is working with a consortium of companies to develop a pilot project demonstrating the use of solar powered charging stations. The consortium includes AllCell (USA), Nissan (Japan), DBT (France), MATRA (France), Sun Phocus (USA), Nissan Jordan and NETenergy, a Jordanian start-up company. The Ministry of Environment has signed a memorandum of understanding and is planning on procuring 300 Nissan Leafs as well as other “light electric” vehicles such as e-bikes, e-scooters and NEVs. Learn more: Zawya.com
In August Polaris introduced a broad selection of their off-road vehicles (ORVs) to the Indian market. The company expects to have twenty-five “sales touch points” in the country by the end of the year. Management has a goal of $100 million in ORV sales by 2016. They are also studying the feasibility of selling LSVs, leveraging their recently acquired GEM product line. Mahindra Reva is currently selling similar vehicles with a sales target of 3,000 vehicles per year. The government provides some incentives but infrastructure issues are an obstacle as well. Learn more: Business-standard.com
A conceptual effort that would allow cities in Riverside County to plan and implement networks allowing Neighborhood Electric Vehicles (NEVs) has received a “Vision Award” from the Orange County/Inland Empire Chapter of the Urban Land Institute. The Western Riverside Council of Governments’ 4-City Neighborhood Electric Vehicle Transportation Plan created potential NEV routes connecting the cities of Corona, Norco, Moreno Valley and Riverside….Key components of the plan include a low to no cost Phase One network that leverages prior infrastructure investments (Class II bike routes) connecting employment, housing and activity centers. A long range phase is included to provide a complete backbone network over time. Learn more: WRCOG.cog.ca.us (pdf);
A recent story reports that Hawaii currently has 268 registered taxable electric vehicles in use. Approximately 250 of the vehicles are NEVs and the remaining are highway capable vehicles. In the last year the total number of electric vehicle grew 51% which works out to be about 90 vehicles. The state government has established a goal of using clean energy for 70% of the transportation needs. Since it is an island, Hawaii is a good fit for NEVs and other electrics because of the shorter travel distances required, a mild climate which improves battery performance and a less expansive area for building out EV charging infrastructure. Learn more: Dailyjournal.net & Hawaii.gov