Sustainable Transport Club
Electric Vehicle Initiative
The Medium Speed Electric Vehicle Project
The Medium Speed Electric Vehicle (MSEV) initiative was started as a way to get affordable electric drive vehicles on the road.
The idea comes from people who have been driving Neighborhood Electric Vehicles (NEVís) and recognize that minor upgrades would allow them to be more useful vehicles. These are great vehicles that do not contribute to global warming or to oil dependency but they have been set up to be limited in the market place (some would say they have been set up to fail). NEVís are currently limited to 25 mph according to the federal specifications.
Medium Speed EV
The MSEV Initiative would create a new specifications to allow such vehicles to go 35 miles per hour. The 35 mph specifications would be turned into new legislation that would allow the MSEVs to be registered, insured and driven legally. Vehicles at this speed are far safer in our communities than larger vehicles which can speed and endanger bicyclists and pedestrians. They would give many more people a good solution to their local driving needs.
This movement started in Montana and Washington State which have both passed such legislation. There are ten states with laws that support MSEVs in various forms. Each such state would need to get the specifications added to their vehicle code. The following link has more updated information:
This effort was picked up by a group of people associated with the Sustainable Transport Club and a non-profit group was created. The MSEV Coalition served two purposes. One was to network the groups interested in this effort around the country and help coordinate a national level campaign. The other was to see if any of our California State representatives would put forward an MSEV bill.
The Coalition and related people submitted several simultaneous petitions to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) for a new classification of vehicles with a corresponding set of safety regulations. NHTSA denied the petition on the grounds that all passenger vehicles have to deal with 5000 pound SUVs speeding in our communities so they all have to meet full safety requirements.
The effort in California was able to call the question with both state representatives and state level officials. The state level staff had to acknowledge the NHTSA position on the safety concerns so their response was to err on the side of safety. None of the representatives were willing to support an effort that state level staff considered a safety compromise.
Full Speed EVs Take Center Stage
The introduction of the new full speed EVs are the main focus of the deployment effort right now. There are some vehicles in the mix that are along the lines of what we envisioned from the MSEV intiative. They have more range and speed and cost more than we wanted. You might say we exceeded our expectations.
There is a clear concern in the market place that the new generation of EVs requires too large an investment up front. There are very solid justifications for that pricing. Once people understand how much they will save in fuel costs over the life of the vehicle, then they will see how affordable the current vehicles really are even now.
The other side of that coin is that a reduced range and a lower speed capacity would reduce the up-front costs and produce a vehicle that fits into a good number of situations very effectively. When those elements come together we will see more vehicles along the lines of MSEVs on the roads.
Local Use Vehicles as a Solution for Sustainable Transportation
The MSEV effort has produced a clear understanding of a major shift in the transportation needs of certain communities. Thousands of people around the country have discovered that they do not need a full speed vehicle for most of their around town travel.
Certain communities have traffic that does not travel much faster than 35 mph. That is true of many beach and retirement communities as well as some rural communities up to a certain size.
These people are also seeing that they really do not even go 30 miles a day for over 80 or 90 percent of their lives. This is not surprising as government reports show the average daily miles traveled for the US is 32 miles per day (close to 12,000 miles a year).
There are a whole range of very affordable vehicles that can be used for people where these conditions exist. These would include MSEVs, LSVs, electric motor scooters and electric motorcycles. It can be said that bicycles and electric bicycles are also fit this category. These can be referred to as Local Use Vehicles (or LUVs for short).
You Have to LUV Such Simple Solutions
LUVs are affordable electric drive and human powered vehicles. The trick is to find a place that would fit the 35 mph and 20 to 30 mile range specifications and you can use them effectively. They can be effective in more places than you would think. The South Bay Cities Council of Governments has done excellent work on analyzing how such vehicles can fit into a community. The information on their web site is useful to both consumers and policy planners alike.
The idea being that a LUV can get over 200 mpg equivalent with zero emissions. You do what you can with your LUV and save your fume spewing, gas sucking vehicle for the longer trips. The concept is to have vehicles in your family fleet that are specifically designed to be Local Use Vehicles (LUVs).
This works perfectly in cities like Santa Monica and similar beach cities where only the freeway actually moves faster than 35 mph. I have done this and put 5,000 miles on LUVs and only 3,000 on my car a year. It worked in part because I lived and worked within a ten mile radius.
Another situation that this works for is to use the LUV as the vehicle to take to the train or express bus as well as for local errands. City planners refer to that as the first and last mile of a mass transit commute.
Try Local Use Vehicles as a Personal Solution to Oil Addiction
We may not have MSEVs in this country yet. They are being used all around the world and will get here eventually.
Until they do get here, you might consider looking at how you can use the idea of a Local Use Vehicle as your personal solution. All it takes is to track how you actually use your current vehicle. How many miles do you travel a day and how often is that 30 miles or less? How fast are you actually traveling around town? Not how fast are you driving, you have to take into account how much time you spend stopped at red lights. People on 35 mph motor scooters love watching cars race past them only to wait at the next light. The same car can pass such a motor scooter three to five times in a mile because they are both actually traveling less than 35 mph.
Getting realistic about how you actually drive is the first step to ending your personal oil addiction. The second step is to let go of needing every vehicle you own to be able to do everything you ever want to do in a vehicle. Every vehicle does not have to be able to drive 300 miles. Once those ideas change you will be able to see how many options there are to let you do your part in ending our oil dependency.
Another thing that might help is to sign up to receive the Club Newsletter so you can get updated info about these and other solutions.
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Copyright 2013 Russell Sydney, All rights reserved.