Chris Contolini

I bought a neighborhood electric vehicle (NEV)

Pictures to come. It’s a 2002 Ford Think neighbor. Essentially a beefy, street-legal, four-seater golf cart. 1,693 were made in 2002 before the line was discontinued and the remaining vehicles crushed. The Ford think city was featured in the documentary “who killed the electric car?”

It has no doors and looks completely ridiculous. It’s classed as a low-speed vehicle and can not exceed 25mph. It can legally be driven on roads 35mph and under (nearly every street in San Francisco). It has a license plate and is registered and insured like any other vehicle. It’s 100% electric and I plug it into a standard 110 volt outlet to charge it at night. It gets 25 miles to the charge and costs $10/month in electricity.

It is tons of fun. The previous owner installed a CD player and stereo system. I found a bike rack on the street and installed it. We drive around blaring chiptune. Travis and I drive to the bike kitchen with our bikes on the back. We go to costco without having to get a city carshare car. We can go to rainbow grocery and buy all the vegan food we want without having to haul stuff back on the bus.

Wherever we go we park on the sidewalk and people assume the vehicle is owned by the city or a local university. No tickets, yet. I went to RSA at the Moscone Center. It was downtown San Francisco in the middle of the day and parking was completely impossible (as expected). I drove into the Terba Buena Gardens and parked in an outdoor walkway. No one said anything and I returned three hours later.

I am lucky to live in a small city (San Francisco is only 7×7 miles) where such an obscure vehicle is practical. I encourage everyone in a similar situation to explore alternative means of transportation. Electric vehicles have superb acceleration and drive like a go-cart. Sooooo much fun.