Saturday, July 5, 2008

Quebec Allows the ZENN and Nemo on Public Roads

Quebec has announced a pilot project for Low Speed Vehicles/Neighbourhood Electric Vehicles that would allow the public to drive them on any Quebec road with a maximum speed limit of 50km/hr starting July 17. Unfortunately not all NEVs will be eligible, but the two manufacturers that will participate have had a lot of great press and praise. The two vehicles that Quebecois will be able to choose from are the ZENN, a small hatchback style passenger vehicle, and the NEMO, a little truck. Both are manufactured in Quebec.

The pilot project is currently set to last 3 years, with the possibility that it could be extended another 2 years after that. But Julie Boulet, Quebec's Minister of Transportation, who announced the plan was clear that the goal of the project is to develop appropriate rules of the road and safety requirements through experience with these vehicles. They do not expect that after 3-5 years people who have purchased one of these NEVs will have to give up driving it, but that some of the rules concerning their use may be amended, dropped or new rules created based on the information acquired over this trial period.

Some of the rules for the pilot project include drivers having to keep the vehicle's head and tail lights on at all times while driving and having to drive only in the right hand lane except to make a left turn. The NEV has to have two signs affixed to it: an orange triangle indicating it is a low speed vehicle and a sign indicating its top speed is 40km/hr. Also, it has to be equipped with winter tires when being driven in the winter. For a complete list of rules and regulations (in French) click here.

This bulletin from Transport Quebec also indicates that Municipalities have the regulatory power to prohibit or restrict the use of Low Speed Vehicles in their jurisdictions. So I guess the next question is: Are municipalities going to allow the use of NEVs, actively promote their use or discourage their use?

Montreal, for example, has already shown itself to be friendly to NEVs by hosting a couple of pilot projects for low speed electric cars. In the sidebar on the right there is a personal account by Luc Couillard who test drove one for two weeks in Montreal. And here is the description of one project (in French) run by the Agence Metropolitaine de Transport that involved about 100 electric vehicles.

If you've spoken to anybody on your city or town council in Quebec or anywhere else in Canada, it would be great if you'd leave a comment about what you found out!

1 comment:

Mrs. Laughing Pants said...

Great post!
Thanks for sharing about Quebec.