Publication Detail

Regulatory Policy Development for Neighborhood Electric Vehicles


Research Report

Suggested Citation:
Lipman, Timothy E., Kenneth S. Kurani, Daniel Sperling (1994) Regulatory Policy Development for Neighborhood Electric Vehicles. Institute of Transportation Studies, University of California, Davis, Research Report UCD-ITS-RR-94-21

This report explores the regulatory issues facing the introduction of neighborhood electric vehicles (NEVs) to urban areas in the U.S. The use of NEVs on a large scale would provide significant air quality benefits because NEVs produce no tailpipe emissions and could replace the vast majority of short, heavily-polluting trips. NEVs could also reduce greenhouse gas emissions, increase energy efficiency, enhance energy security, reduce the land-use demands of the automobile system, and promote the development of more "livable" communities.

NEVs would be introduced into a vehicle system dominated by full-sized automobiles. Vehicle codes, regulations, and safety standards all have been developed for these larger vehicles, and NEVs thus face a confusing and often unaccomodating regulatory fate. Due to the particular language of various vehicle codes, different NEV designs may be treated as passenger cars, motorcycles, or golf carts. Consequently, they may or may not be required to meet the current set of federal safety standards, but in any case would almost certainly have great difficulty doing so. Additionally, NEVs may be excluded from or included in various bodies of energy and air quality legislation. All of these regulatory treatments have important implications for the degree to which NEVS may be successfully introduced.

This report explores the details of these issues, and includes an exploration of the ways in which NEVs might circumvent the need to meet safety standards, the policy issues involved in developing infrastructure for NEVs, and the treatment of NEVs – such legislation as the California Air Resources Board zero-emission vehicle mandate, the Clean Air Act, and the Corporate Average Fuel Economy program. Following a discussion of these topics, recommendations are made for both the short and long-term.
Prepared for CALSTART.