Ontario to Allow Low Speed Electric Cars On Roads, with Additional Rules

by Benjamin Jones on December 7, 2008

Canada’s most populous province is finally following the lead of British Columbia and Quebec in permitting low speed electric vehicles (LSV’s) to be driven on public roads.  Canada’s LSV class is based on the Neighbourhood Electric Vehicle class in the U.S., where 44 states permit their use (as of May 2008).

However, Ontario vehicles and their drivers will likely face additional regulations meant to address safety concerns raised in a government study released at the end of November.

“LSVs are a new kind of vehicle and it will take a new set of standards to allow them to be safely driven on Ontario roads,” said Transportation Minister Jim Bradley.  “Based on the study results, we plan to announce LSV safety standards and the rules of the road for LSVs this winter.”

The study recommends the province require a number of additional measures for the vehicles and their drivers, such as:

  • daytime running lights (failing that, drivers must keep their headlights on at all times)
  • a notice affixed to the exterior of the vehicle indicating its maximum speed
  • a slow moving vehicle sign
  • three separate sound warning devices: horn, proximity warning system for pedestrians/cyclists, backup warning systems
  • defrosting and heating systems
  • three-point seat belts
  • requirement that buyers sign a “Notice of Limitations” document at the time of sale that explains
    what the LSV’s performance and safety limitations are
  • prohibition against carrying infants and children who require infant or child seats
  • restricted to drivers with G class license or higher (ie. no new drivers in Ontario’s graduated licence system)
  • no towing of any type of trailer
  • on multi-lane roads, the LSV must drive in the right lane, except if making a left turn
  • … and more (see NRC study pdf, below)

Both the federal and provincial governments have been under some pressure by the public and media for apparent foot-dragging on the issue of approving for sale and permitting this vehicle class on public roads.

Additional information:

Ontario To Permit Low-Speed Vehicles – Government of Ontario

Safe Integration of Electric Low Speed Vehicles on Ontario’s Roads in Mixed Traffic (pdf) – National Research Council of Canada

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{ 4 comments }

1 Thalass December 8, 2008 at 5:29 am

So… does this apply to all EVs, or just the slow crappy half-arsed NEVs?

2 Kenneth December 8, 2008 at 9:59 am

Pleased to know that B C,Quebec and now Ont.have allowed electric vehicles in their provinces while we wait in Manitoba. Cars such as the ZENN should be used for short commutes,city travel and not on highways until models advance as they will or people wish to buy a Tesla for $100,000 ! Many residents of Winnipeg want such vehicles for their short commutes,economy and environment friendly reasons. Why cannot Zenn a Canadian company be encouraged to build and sell their product throughout Canada ; they presently market in many states in the U S A ?

3 Benjamin Jones December 8, 2008 at 2:48 pm

Kenneth, do you know the actual status of LSV’s in Manitoba?

I would have thought your province would be moving forward, if not leading on this front. It’s got a history of supporting EVs and promoting its mostly renewably produced electricity.

4 Benjamin Jones December 8, 2008 at 2:50 pm

Thalass – these Ontario regs are just about the low speed, neighbourhood EV’s.

“Full” highway capable EV’s and conversions are legal to buy/sell and drive in Ontario.

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