Second dealer wants to sell electric cars

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Columbia ParCar (Reedsburg, WI) builds the
four-passenger neighborhood electric vehicle above.

From an article by Michael Burke in The Journal Times (Racine):

UNION GROVE — Before long, we could see a little vehicle that looks like a cross between a car and a golf cart, silently roaming the streets.

The village is considering authorizing the use of neighborhood electric vehicles, or NEVs. Billy Martin, owner of Martin Chrysler, is hoping the measure is adopted so he can begin selling Chrysler’s Global Electric Motorcar.

The street-legal little cars cruise around without producing noise or emissions on a 110-volt charge.

“I hope to sell 10 or 12 a year,” Martin said. “The first year we might have a boom.”

By state law, NEVs are allowed on streets with 35 mph speed limit or less, where a municipality has passed an enabling ordinance. Martin hopes other area cities and villages, one by one, will approve the vehicles.

It’s a laborious way to advance the greenest car in existence. If Union Grove adopts an ordinance, Martin said, “I’ll go to Waterford next. Then Burlington, Lake Geneva ...”

He said NEVs are catching on “all over” and are especially popular in retirement communities in Southern states.

“They’re just now starting to flood into other areas,” Martin added.

Martin Chrysler, 1422 Main St., will become just the second Wisconsin dealer of the Global Electric Motorcar, or GEM. The models range from two to six seats and have a base price of about $6,800-$12,500.

Wisconsin’s other GEM dealer, Hill Automotive in Portage, has carried the cars since 2004. But, except for an initial spurt, sales have been as slow as the cars’ 25 mph top speed, salesman John Helmann said.