Electric cars keep Aspen’s air clean | AspenTimes.com

Electric cars keep Aspen’s air clean

Shae Singer
Inside Business
Aspen, CO Colorado

You cannot hear them or smell them but when one is driven past you on the streets of Aspen you are sure to stop and stare.

They come in all colors and in many shapes, and they make you smile and make you think and wonder. They are in fact 100 percent neighborhood electric vehicles.

While electric cars have been around since the early 1900’s (they were one of the first automobiles on the road), it has only been in the last 10 years or so that the Neighborhood Electric Vehicle (NEV) has been accepted and legalized in our nation.

NEV/LSV is a federal designation for a Neighborhood Electric Vehicle or Low Speed Vehicle, and is required by law to follow some specific rules and regulations.

For instance, they must have seat belts, brakes, lights, rear lights, headlights, windshields, horns, turn signals, and be licensed and registered. You must be 16 years of age and have a valid drivers license in order to operate one. They are not golf carts as some may believe.

You might have seen them in Aspen looking like a roadster, a mini hummer, a rounded bubble shape or even a three-wheel sedan or truck.

They are red, yellow, green, blue, white and zebra striped. All kinds of people own them, from families who choose to make a difference with carbon emissions, realtors who use them to drive around to properties in order to be environmentally conscious many who just like them because they are more energy and fuel efficient.

Drivers also enjoy the perk of free parking in any legal spot in the city of Aspen.

NEV cars in Aspen have many important attributes: They dramatically improve our air quality as they have essentially zero carbon emissions and provide virtually no noise on our streets and neighborhoods.

NEVs also just by their nature are ideal transportation for small communities such as ours. They drive at a speed limit of 25 miles per hour and can travel on a single battery charge for 20 to 50 miles. At today’s prices that is approximately 2.5 cents per mile.

To fully charge most NEVs the cost is less than $3, which is less money than if you left your front porch light on overnight.

The energy consumption of an NEV is less than one-fifth than a conventional automobile.

NEV technology is growing worldwide faster than our government can keep up with it. There are still states that do not allow NEVs for the simple reason that the laws have not been changed to allow them. Some states have such antiquated laws that even though NEV cars are allowed on the roads, the new cars are so advanced they no longer meet the old legal definitions and standards of NEV, which is the case in Colorado.

The city of Aspen and Pitkin County just signed a resolution that asks Colorado lawmakers to allow us to self inspect NEVs that meet federal and state safety requirements so we can get more safe and modern models of cars on our roads, as well as create consistency in the licensing of them locally.

Most gasoline or fuel-based vehicles burn and emit the most toxic levels of CO2 in the first 15 minutes of start up and/or the first 20 miles of driving.

How does that translate for us here? Imagine that you need to run to the grocery store from the AABC or Hunter Creek. You missed the bus and are in a hurry. You start your car and drive to Aspen. In the time it takes you to get to town and back to your home you have spewed 90 percent of the worse carbon emissions your car produces.

NEVs eliminate that while encouraging people to shop locally.

I recently was invited to attend a conference on electric cars held on Capitol Hill in Washington D.C. sponsored by the Brookings Institute and Google.

The underlying message was NEV, rlectric and hybrid electric cars must become mainstream in the USA and are a necessity to reduce oil dependency. They can break our oil addiction, cut driving cost and reduce pollution. To hear speakers like the president of Ford and General Motors; managers of technology from Toyota; senators and congressmen, as well as major electric companies and even gasoline company representatives, all agreeing on the need for electric vehicles was phenomenal.

GM says its plug-in Chevy Volt will be in showrooms by 2010. It will be an electric car primarily with a small alternative fuel back up. Toyota, Mitsubishi, Ford and other automakers are close behind. Nissan is working with visionary entrepreneurs to convert the entire nation of Israel to plug in vehicles.

Nevs come in many models by many manufactures throughout the world and the USA.

You can make a difference locally with them. Now is the time to get on the bandwagon and join not just our community but the world in supporting electric cars and reducing oil dependency.