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Montana Enacts Law Enabling Medium-Speed Electric Vehicles; First in Nation

24 April 2007

Bozeman Daily Chronicle.  Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer has signed into law SB 185, a bill that allows neighborhood electric vehicles equipped with the proper safety features to travel up to 35 mph on city and county roads.

NEVs previously were in the same category as golf carts, and were prohibited from travelling faster than 25 mph.

The state of Washington has passed a similar bill, but it has not yet been signed into law.

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April 24, 2007 in Brief | Permalink | Comments (8) | TrackBack (0)

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Seems like a good idea - 35 mph is enough for many urban areas. But Montana ???

I suppose you have got to start somewhere.

Low power urban electric vehicles are a useful class of vehicle you could build now. Just have to make them look OK.

35 mph is an excellent move. It actually starts to make them useful. Now, not only do they need to not look like golf carts or boxes with wheels, they also need to be able to accelerate at a reasonable rate so that the owner can feel comfortable in traffic. i.e. you can't use regular lead acid in them, they just weigh far too much.

Another 5MPH would put this vehicle into the mainstream. As it is, urban streets are top-posted at 40MPH and traffic usually exceeds that. But it is a start and maybe drivers will cut NEVs a break knowing they're zero emission.

I am with gr on this, while it is great that they are letting the electric only cars go up to 35mph now with reasonable amounts of safety features, it would be phenomenal if it was 40-45mph because every mph over 35 is a boon. Maybe a graduated system of features and speed, i.e. 35 mph if you have the current level of safety features and 45 mph if you exceed the minimum level by building cars with a more robust crumple zone or, possibly, using airbags (which would probably be cost prohibitive, though)... And it may only be Montana now, but Washington soon, and if it plays well in Montana, it should play well just about anywhere.

Where I am (Vancouver) the limit is 50kph in town (most people travel 60) so 35mph would be fine (if it has decent acceleration).

Carpocalypse now!!

gr, where exactly are you living that 40 mph is the street speed? even when i lived in the boonies of nj (read: suburbs), 40 mph was the speed limit on just one street, for a length of less than a mile – everything else was 35 or less.
the city of berkeley, ca, for example, has all streets at 25 mph. los angeles, in the populated areas, mostly has 30/35 mph.

the main problem, as i see it, is simply of looks and safety – you can't expect other drivers on the road to take you seriously, so it's a bit dangerous, and none of these vehicles are actually designed to be driven as "the only" car. they need to stop being glorified golf carts if they're gonna go anywhere.


Looks, schmooks. I'll take a box or an egg on wheels if it'll haul two people, a half cubic yard of cargo, and do 35 miles per hour with a 40 mile range.

The purpose of a car is transportation. Fashion is malleable, the laws of physics are not.

The main problem with many of the current crop of NEVs is the absence of lockable doors, which creates a target for vandals and thieves. In some NEVs, the plan area (footprint) of the vehicle is not used effectively, for example with a small trunk sticking out behind a passenger compartment, instead of an extension of the enclosed area to create viable cargo space.

The Zap Xebra solves both of those issues and has enough power to get extra speed where needed (it would be great if Zap offered an extended range battery pack as an option). As a 3-wheeler it's also legally a motorcycle. The Twike is another good one, perhaps better because it's capable of higher speeds and greater range, though the tradeoff is higher first cost, and the joystick steering system seems as if it could take some getting used to.

Prediction: 20 years from now, all of this technology will have settled down, there will be standardized EVs with no serious design compromises, and we will all look back fondly on the days in the early 2000s when so many wild & weird designs were on the road.

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