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Neighborhoods with electric cars

Marc Lefkowitz  |  11/14/07 @ 6:51pm

New Urbanism is a design solution that has cracked the DNA code on village-like neighborhoods-Shaker Square, Chagrin Falls, Coventry Village, or Hudson's Main Street-that we've come to adore.

In short, what's common is a town center with a bustling market-a one-minute walk if you live above a shop, five minutes from a townhome just behind the main strip, or 10-15 minutes from the farthest edge of the village.

While most of the trips around our future New Urbanist villages will happen on public circulators and safe routes for cyclists, they will also have cars for those 20 degree days in January. Neighborhood electric cars, such as the new Zenn electric car, could play a role. The Zenn (Zero Emissions No Noise) plugs in to a regular outlet and, with top speeds of 25 miles per hour, it's suited for short trips to the store or work-when we use cars most.

Charging it takes four hours, and it delivers the gasoline equivalency of roughly 245 miles per gallon, according to its manufacturer. At 128 inches long (with 13 cubic feet of storage capacity-more than a Civic) super compacts like the Zenn and the Smart Car could seriously reduce the amount of space given over to parking in our village.

The Zenn is available through Vic Staley, a distributor in Ashland, OH. Currently, the company is offering a discount to those who will drive and promote the car to their neighbors.

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