What is a LSV?
A Low Speed Vehicle is a Federally defined class of street legal vehicles that must go at least 20 mph but no faster than 25 mph. They are smaller and are limited to 2500 lbs GVW. They are required to have a number of safety features, such as head lamps, tail lamps, turn signals, brake lights, side reflectors, seat belts, approved automotive windshields. Over 45 States allow LSV’s on public roads 35 mph or slower. They are desirable since they can offset the use of a larger gasoline powered vehicle.
What is new?
The original intent as written in the Federal Register in 1998 was “This final rule responds to a growing public interest in using golf cars and other similar-sized, 4-wheeled vehicles to make short trips for shopping, social and recreational purposes primarily within retirement or other planned communities with golf courses. These passenger-carrying vehicles, although low-speed, offer a variety of advantages, including comparatively low-cost and energy-efficient mobility. Further, many of these vehicles are electric-powered. The use of these vehicles, instead of larger, gasoline-powered vehicles like passenger cars, provides quieter transportation that does not pollute the air of the communities in which they are operated.”
Hence the original paradigm was for a dual purpose vehicle to play golf in and to drive on restricted access public roads. The new paradigm that EcoV establishes is a road-worthy daily driver, which can be used on any public roads 35 mph or slow and feel safe and comfortable driving EcoV.
What is the history in this market?
The history of neighborhood electric vehicles probably started in Florida, Arizona, and California. In retirement communities, people needed a low cost transportation solution. Used golf carts were inexpensive and available, so they were purchased. People started to use them in more and more ways, including driving them on public roads where they could get away with it. Many closed communities allow golf carts on city streets. Then people started to modify them to go faster. This is not difficult to do, but if not done correctly will lead to problems with over-heating and poor performance on hills or under load.
In 1997 the National Traffic and Safety Administration released a proposed rule making standard for Low Speed Vehicles. In 1998 the final rule was published. This is referred to as FMVSS 500. Neighborhood Electric Vehicles were not specifically defined in the standard.
California Air Resources Board had previously set requirements for Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) sales in California. Originally it was set to reach 10% of the OEM’s sales volume. The OEM’s dragged their feet and the rules were relaxed. In 2000 CARB proposed to let LSV’s be counted as full ZEV’s and have in addition a multiplier as was being offered to get the OEM’s to set up. For 2001-2002, all LSV’s “sold” would get 4 credits. For 2003 it would drop to 1.25, and in 2004-2005 drop to 0.625, followed by 2006 and on when it dropped to 0.15. This created a huge incentive for the OEM’s to get into LSV’s. Chrysler bought GEM at end of 2000 and took all of the credits they had already collected. Because of the impact of producing higher volumes of electric vehicles, ZEV credits were going to be traded on open market. New companies coming in to build EV’s would get credits that they could sell to OEM’s. This created a lot of new entries trying to make money off the rule changes. As a result the value of credits was high enough that the market was stimulated. In the meantime Chrysler and GM took CARB to court over the whole ZEV issue and in 2003 won the suit and the mandate was cancelled. CARB and the industry move towards fuel cells which were at least 10-20 years off.
What is and has been in this market?
Golf Carts (2005):
New and used golf carts accounted for 620,000 units. There were 371,000 units to the non-fleet market; 150,000 new & 221,000 used. Fleets, mainly private golf courses, bought 253,000 new golf carts. Since golf course fleet sales are so strong, competitive, and important, golf carts are optimized for lowest possible cost to meet 2 rounds of golf per day for a 3 year life span. Used golf carts require major refurbishing or rebuilding before they are re-sold. Electric carts now out sell gas versions.
Club Car Precedent golf cart – $6786 (2004 price)
StreetRod Productions - golf cart chassis – customized - $16,999
Neighborhood and Low Speed Vehicles (2005):
Neighborhood Electric Vehicles (NEV’s) – are not necessarily Low Speed Vehicles (LSV’s). All LSV’s are street legal. In 2005 it was estimated that between 5,000 and 5,500 LSV’s & NEV’s were sold in US.
Global Electric Motorcars (GEM) is a wholly owned subsidiary of Daimler Chrysler. It is estimated that sales were 4,500 to 5,000 units last year. They have 37 dealerships listed on their website nationwide, including Hawaii. GEM is the largest selling make of LSV.
GEM e4 starts at $8,995 as shown with doors $14, 300
Dynasty sold about 75-100 vehicles last year. They are struggling and were bought out of bankruptcy a couple of years ago.
Dynasty – base price about $13,000
Western Golf Cart Company
Western sells golf carts and some offer NEV packages; they also sell the Lido which Lee Iacocca put into production back in late 90’s and Northern built for his company.
Western (with NEV pkg) as shown $12,959 start about $7,500
Lido base $13,000; woody $15,800; no doors available
Feel Good Cars – ZENN (zero emission, no noise) is being offered by a Canadian company who is not in production yet, but will receive “gliders” from French MicroCars and convert to electric in Canada. Only available as two seater.
Miles Automotive – owned by Tianjin Xiali (Tianjin-Qingyuan Electric Vehicle Co), a subsidiary of the First Automobile Works in Tianjin, China. Miles and Tianjin plan to offer and sell standard electric vehicles. To meet LSV requirements, the ZX-40 which is a 6 passenger micro-van is only rated to carry two people to stay under the GVW requirements of FMVSS 500.
ZAP is no longer offering LSV models, but is offering a motor-cycle (three wheel) class vehicles. ZAP has offered two types of LSV’s before (one a French micro-car and one a Chinese micro-car) but apparently could not deliver them(?).
ZAP – Xebra, priced under $10,000 with max speed 40 mph and range up to 40 miles
Subcompact Standard Cars; (note all of these are equipped with 4 doors, automatic transmissions, and radios; all have A/C as part of model with A/T available; destination charges not included)
2007 Hyundai Accent – GLS 4 dr. base price $12,565 (A/C & radio)
2007 Kia Rio – LX base price $12,695 (A/C & radio)
2007 Chevrolet Aveo – LS – 4dr – base price $12,515 (A/C & radio)
Has Beens, now gone:
Bombardier NEV; circa 2000
Ford Th!nk Neighbor built in 2002
Lafayette County Car Company; circa 2004
B.I.G. Man; circa 2004
What is EcoV?
EcoV is a 25mph street legal electric Low Speed Vehicle that is road-worthy with automotive ride, comfort, durability and reliability that offers a safe driving experience on daily trips on public roads 35mph and slower. EcoV is to be built in USA in Detroit, MI.
For 50 cents of electricity out of a standard wall outlet in less than 8 hrs in completely charged and ready to go another 25-40 miles day-in and day-out. EcoV comes in 3 models each with a 1000 lb load capacity.
There are a 4 and 6 passenger models with a rear seat that converts into a utility load floor easily, and a 2 passenger pick-up truck.
There are many Factory installed options available to make EcoV exactly the way you need it or want it. There is right-hand drive, extended range, air conditioning and heat for extreme climates, with no significant effect on range, and many more options.
EcoV has changed the Low Speed Vehicle paradigm. EcoV also changes the rules on how to do niche vehicles.
Why is EcoV road worthy?
- EcoV was designed by experienced automotive engineers who have done many standard cars and trucks. EcoV has automotive ride, handling, and comfort.
- EcoV uses a tubular steel welded frame and chassis similar to how a race car is built, including a full roll cage. It is light, strong, and easy to repair.
- EcoV was configured as a small car. EcoV has a high cowl, full automotive safety glass windshield, additional width over a golf cart for stability, doors, and hood with dry lockable storage below. EcoV was designed to be a no excuse, do anything vehicle for use in city/urban areas.
- EcoV uses 87% current technology, current production automotive and industrial parts. These parts are already proven, durable components. For example, EcoV uses 14” standard highway tires and wheels that are available everywhere.
- EcoV exceeds what is required by Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 500. In addition we add items like a full hydraulic 4 wheel brake system with independent mechanical park brake, third brake light and our Slow Speed Alert System lights to warn drivers approaching from the rear that EcoV is different and is only going 25 mph.
How does EcoV compare to its competition?
We have a chart that list key customer purchase decision attributes on top and our competitors on the side. Our competitors are golf carts, other LSV’s, and standard cars.
The key customer attributes are Street legal, Safety, Fuel Cost, Low Maintenance & repair, Long Life, Price, and Factory Customization.
EcoV has all the boxes satisfied. Golf carts are not street legal, only EcoV has a full steel frame and chassis which offers more protection than other LSV’s. The electric vehicles clearly have an advantage over gasoline vehicles, for low operation fuel costs. For low maintenance costs only EcoV uses off-the-shelf current production automotive and industrial parts, including standard sealed batteries that do not require watering. For a small sub-compact car used in a city on short missions, on and off operation, they wear out in 5 years. For price, EcoV is lower cost than comparably equipped LSV’s and small standard cars with automatic transmissions.
Who wants it and why?
The first market is fleets. EcoV is a street-worthy commercial fleet vehicle for under $10,000. Fleets are hungry for the operational cost savings EcoV provides in city operations..
Fleets market size: 17 M new cars and trucks sold per year (2005). 3M were sold to fleets, and of those 200,000 do not need to go faster than 25 mph and could be low speed vehicles.
Fleet applications: First fleet market is electric utility companies who desire to have vehicles which use their “fuel.” Fuel provider fleets are mandated to purchase 90% Alternative Fuel Vehicles by EPAct 1992 and to reduce consumption of oil based fuels.
DTE Energy is signed up to test next year.
From there we springboard to government fleets, as Federal Fleets, State Fleets, and municipal fleets. They are mandated to purchase 75% alternative fuel vehicles and reduce oil based fuel consumption.
Cities of Ann Arbor and Grosse Pointe Woods, MI are signed up to test next year.
University of Michigan Dept of Public Safety is signed up to test next year
Detroit Department of Parking Enforcement is preparing to test next year.
US Postal Service is going to test next year as a carrier route vehicle in city and urban areas.
Commercial fleets such as delivery services, vacation rentals, city rental vehicles, hotels, resorts and community transportation services, transportation vehicles at theme parks, for sales at Master Planned Communities and for maintenance are retirement communities.
Private use markets:
There are two major parts of the private use market, first is retirement communities as household’s second vehicle and secondly, urban families as the third or fourth vehicle.
Private use market size statistics:
46M households in 2010, 55 years and older; how many live in the 10,000 and growing Master Planned Communities or retirement communities? Whose second vehicle could be an EcoV?
25 M households today with 3 or more cars. How many could the 3rd or 4th vehicle be an EcoV?
Private use applications:
Car for community errands
High school or college student vehicle
Urban family vehicle for neighborhood errands on public roads
City resident transportation vehicle
Complete product offering:
We provide the complete product offering for a Fleet manager or private buyer. We provide the base product as the start. Then expand to include standard options, service and parts, and lastly factory customization, where we build the product exactly to their needs... like a refreshment truck or Postal truck or personalized vehicle in coral pink with monogrammed seats.
How do we bring new automotive technology to market faster?
Old way is wait for the OEM’s and how long will that take?
New way is to use automotive people to bring new tech forward, but create the demand on the consumer side. When customers demand, the OEM’s must respond. To do this, you need incentives and education on the customer side.
The domestic OEM’s did not want to go to hybrids. Toyota and Honda started to produce them and expand the market. Gas prices, foreign oil sensitivity, and environmental issues raised awareness and made them desirable to purchase. The domestic OEM’s were behind and are struggling to catch up. What drove it? Government put incentives to purchase them, classified them at a minimum performance level to count as a hybrid. California gave hybrids access to the High Occupancy Lanes even with one person. Oh, by the way, the Japanese Government is still subsidizing hybrid vehicle battery prices.
How does this compare to what is being done today to encourage electric vehicles and other alternative fuel vehicles?
There is still a 10% tax credit (up to $4,000) in certain individual private applications. EcoV can qualify for this tax credit.
There are other incentives or subsidies for corn, ethanol, bio-diesel, etc.
But we must stop the foolishness of allowing dual-fuel vehicles to count as alternative fuel vehicles when they only use gas; tie it directly to the amount of ethanol used.
We should allow and encourage LSV's to count as alternative fuel vehicles, which they don't today.
What more could be done?
The objective is to help stimulate awareness of the benefits of electric vehicles.
Low cost incentive issues:
- Free parking at meters in cities
- Free charging for EV’s on parking meters, on utility poles in city areas, or in special areas at shopping centers.
- Free charging at work locations for EV’s
- Allow parking in handicap spots for EV’s
- Special designated lanes for LSV’s on public roads, including those with speed limits higher than 35 mph but less than 45 mph.
- Each State can set its own limits for LSV’s that are operated on non-Federal roads. Maybe allow LSV’s with certain safety equipment to operate at 30 or 25 mph on State roads.
Some cost incentives:
- Allow free licensing and registration for LSV and EV’s
- Offer significant reduction in electricity costs for after peak hour operation
Cost (revenue positive) “incentives”
- Tax on gasoline and diesel fuels to make fuel efficient transportation desirable. Start at a significant tax and raise it every year for 5 to 10 years. Make it stick and use the tax to fund alternative energy solutions, not for pork-barrel pet projects. This is working as oil prices have climbed, but add tax to support developing new energy initiatives to reduce dependence on foreign oil and tie it to who uses the oil based fuel. This works in Europe.
- Make registration a “use” tax on mileage and miles driven.
Please comment whether you agree or not; we need to have discussions on this.
Thank you! Yes the world is ready for a street-worthy LSV, EcoVElectric!