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New Type of Vehicle Comes to Utah

New Type of Vehicle Comes to Utah

Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes

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Gene Kennedy ReportingWith gas prices near the $3 mark and global warming a hot topic, many people are looking to conserve.

A new transportation option does just that. It's called a Neighborhood Electric Vehicle, or NEV. It looks like it belongs on the golf course, not cruising by the Gateway. But that's exactly what a Salt Lake man's been doing since long before NEVs came to Utah.

Fred Hightower says he bought the electric cart because he wanted to save money and help the environment.

No gas in this car. It runs on battery power. Hightower uses it to go to work or get around downtown. He says it's fun.

"I feel like a kid on a scooter," he told us.

Hightower bought his Neighborhood Electric Vehicle in 2005, when you couldn't get one in Utah. So he went to California. He calls his vehicle Gidget. "She's from Santa Monica. She's a beach girl," he said.

The NEV attracts attention. "People pull up and ask questions, 'Where did you get it?' and 'Where's that from?'"

It's unusual to see an NEV on the roads in Utah, but that could change. Highland Golf in Salt Lake City started selling them three months ago.

Store co-owner Steve Osborne explains, "What distinguishes these vehicles from a regular golf cart, which a lot of people confuse them with, is that they're street legal."

The NEVs have seat belts and are configured like a regular car. You might call it a golf cart on steroids. While a golf cart tops out at a speed of 13 miles per hour, the NEVs will go about 25 miles per hour.

Fred Hightower's not alone. The LDS Church uses NEVs. So does the University of Utah. A builder in the DayBreak development is giving them away to new homeowners.

NEVs costs between $7,000 and $10,000. The batteries take about six to eight hours to charge but can run 40 miles. There are several different types of NEVs, some with doors, some without. There are a lot of options.

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