1914 Detroit ElectricSomehow, my wife and I managed to share a car for the past five years. This arrangment worked because we live in a small town, both work at the University, and are attached at the hip. However, I am about to graduate and will need a car to commute. My wife still has about a year before she finishes. It is hard to justfiy getting a second car for her short trip to work. I was ecstatic when she agreed to ride a neighborhood electric vehicle (NEV) into work, provided it met certain cosmetic criteria. My wife is a really good sport when it comes to my unusual habits. She has no shame tailing behind on my Go-Ped electric scooter while I bicycle into work. Her response to this new brainstorm should come at no surpise. The NEV fits her transportation needs perfectly, is inexpensive, low maintenance, and fuel-free. The rules on NEVs are governed by the city you live in. I was extremely disappointed to find the Cities of Champaign and Urbana do not allow them outside of the University of Illinois district.

I have contacted some city council members in hopes of bringing these enviroment- and energy-friendly vehicles to public streets. Below I am documenting the steps we have gone through so far, and will update it as new events occur. I encourage you contact your city council members to support NEVs in your town. This gesture is just a small step in ending our dependence on foreign oil. Thank you and I hope you find the items below useful.


  • (08-12-08) Sheryl called our insurance agent to see if they would insure an NEV. They confirmed that they insure NEVs but at a higher rate than cars due to their lack of safty features and limited availability of replacement parts.
  • (08-15-08) I contacted Champaign City Council, whose ordinances define where NEVs are allowed. The e-mail addresses and photos listed on the city council website suggested the members were very appoachable, and I found this to be true. Champaign also has an extensive database that lets users search previous minutes and agendas–an excellent resource for finding existing NEV ordinances.
  • (08-18-08) I recieved a reply from a member of the city council saying he was adding NEVs to the agenda. He stated that he personally supports allowing NEVs on public streets but expects opposition for their use outside the University District, and recommends that I e-mail the other council members.
  • (08-22-08) City council study session schedule approved for next week.
  • (09-08-08) City council is discussing expansion on 09-09-08.
  • (09-09-08) City council passed in favor of Neighborhood Electric vehicles eight to one. Stay tuned. Read the meeting summary (taken from the City of Champaign website).
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5 Responses to “How to Make Neighborhood Electric Vehicles Legal in Your Town”  

  1. 1 Mike


    I was wondering what the current status of nev’s are in champaign/urbana?


  2. 2 Grant Pitel

    I think they approved, but that is not to say you will not get harassed. I recommend you print out an except from the meeting summary I have posted in case you ever need to show it to the officer ;)

  3. 3 cyncGoophynC

    Хорошо пишете. Надеюсь, когда-нибудь увижу нечто подобное и на своем блоге…

  4. 4 pradeep

    Hey Grant,

    There’s been some talk among some of the power students of building our own little NEV or retrofitted electric car for just commuting around town. This project probably wouldn’t start until the fall and the goals haven’t been outlined yet but I just want to give you the heads up about it.


  5. 5 Grant Pitel

    Sweet, keep me posted. You can get used GEMs for pretty cheap. I would get one for myself, but then I would need to figure out how to get it back to NJ.


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