Canada Doesn't Heart Low Speed Vehicles (LSVs)

Donal Fagan
by Donal Fagan
canada doesnt heart low speed vehicles lsvs

Canada's ZENN, Dynasty and Electrovaya make small, four-wheel, electric cars classified locally as Low-Speed Vehicles (LSVs). They mostly sell these zero emission machines to Americans as Neighborhood Electric Vehicles (NEVs). Though the 25 mph max speed NEVs must be approved at the local level, they are potentially legal on 35 mph roads in 40 US states. The Canadian EV makeers desperately want to sell their products in their home market. As The Toronto Star reports, both Transport Canada and Ontario's Ministry of Transportation restrict the sedate LSVs to "planned" areas like campuses and retirement communities; LSV owners are legally banned from taking their chances among Canada's mix of normal, fast and insanely fast traffic. While slower bicycles and scooters also use Canada's streets, officials are hung-up on the fact that the LSVs look like cars but don't have airbags, side-impact reinforcement or meet any crash-test standards. Makes sense, but is it sensible?

Join the conversation
4 of 7 comments
  • BigOldChryslers BigOldChryslers on Feb 25, 2008

    With such restrictions, which are reasonable given the cars' limited capabilities, I think the market for these would be rather limited. For example, my commute to work is only 1/2 hour and I don't have to take any controlled-access highways, but I still couldn't legally drive such a car to work because there's a section of road with a 50mph (80kph) speed limit. Rerouting to avoid this road AND the 25mph top speed would probably double my commuting time. I could legally drive my moped to work on my normal route, although I don't think I'd want to. My moped could also outrun this car, I might add. :)

  • Lprocter1982 Lprocter1982 on Feb 25, 2008

    I think a big reason molasses-in-January cars are unpopular in Canada is because Canada had a crapload of wide open spaces, and we lack a lot of tight urban spaces. We've got what, a dozen major cities? The US has that in almost every state. Hell, Los Angeles has the same population as all of Canada. In any case, grannies already drive slow enough.

  • Donal Fagan Donal Fagan on Feb 25, 2008

    Around here we have NHDVs, neighborhood horse-drawn vehicles - Amish buggies - and the occasional spectacular accident when a car rear ends one. Just yesterday I saw a black buggy approaching and a minivan closing fast behind it. If I hadn't swerved to the side, the minivan would probably have hit one of us as it passed without slowing down a whit. I could see the same things happening with NEVs/LSVs.

  • Landcrusher Landcrusher on Feb 25, 2008

    Canadian retirees are trapped by their healthcare system which ends when they cross the border. I suspect that the trip insurance that Canadians normally buy would be too expensive for most of them to leave the country for too long. So, no, they do not export their retirees for too long.