n. A small electric car designed to travel at low speeds over short distances.
Auto companies, facing California requirements to sell thousands of 'zero emissions' vehicles, are rolling out 'neighborhood electric vehicles'; essentially souped-up golf carts, these vehicles are equipped with enough battery power to go as fast as 25 miles an hour and to cover a 30-mile range; in 2003, as many as 30,900 NEVs could hit the pavement in California.
—Jeffrey Ball, “How can Detroit top the SUV? Think golf carts,” The Wall Street Journal, July 20, 2001
1995 (earliest)
This one-day event will feature all sorts of EVs including converted gasoline cars, pickups, neighborhood electric vehicles (NEVs), scooters, boats, and world-recording holding racing EVs.
—“EVs on Display in Seattle,” Electric Vehicle Online Today, August 10, 1995
NEVs are often compared to golf carts, but they're more closely related to cars because they boast such car-like amenities as windshields, headlights, seat belts, glove compartments, and even doors. The phrase neighborhood electric vehicle appears to have first been used in California in the early 90s, when the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) system initiated the Neighborhood Electric Vehicle Program. The earliest citation is the first use of NEV in a more generic contex.