Neighborhood Electric Vehicles (NEVs) have been touted as a low-cost way to quickly electrify much of the daily driving that people do. They typically don’t go faster than 35 mph and are increasingly showing up in cities as a way to make short commutes and run errands in a fuel-less and environmentally beneficial way.
But after a series of crash tests that the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) conducted on a few popular models of them, including Chrysler’s GEM brand, the consumer watchdog group is making stern warnings that NEVs have very few safety features and could easily lead to fatalities in even moderate accidents at medium speeds.
Because of their gray-area status, NEVs don’t really fall under the federal government’s purview when it comes to safety and are left to a hodgepodge of state and local laws.
The most the federal government has had to say about them is when the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration wrote the rules governing them in 1998. At that time the NHTSA said that the vehicles were to be used for short trips “primarily within retirement or other planned communities with golf courses.” They also said the vehicles had to have mirrors, headlights, taillights, safety belts, windshields and had to have a top speed of 20 mph but no greater than 25 mph.
Although NEVs are typically advertised as having top speeds of 35 mph, nobody appears to enforce the 25 mph limit — or even be aware of it. Although the NHTSA acknowledges the safety concerns, it has showed no desire to actually do anything about them. Because of this, the IIHS says it is set to push for an increased federal presence when it comes to establishing the safety standards of NEVs.
What do you think, is it even worth the trouble? Or should people just be left to their own devices if they choose to drive around in a death trap as long as they pay higher insurance premiums?
Source: LA Times