Kentucky governor OKs use of low-speed electric vehicles

FRANKFORT, Ky. — Gov. Steve Beshear signed an executive order Tuesday to allow low-speed electric vehicles on Kentucky roads.

Beshear directed the Transportation Cabinet to develop and implement a regulation authorizing the use of the vehicles on highways with a posted speed limit of 45 mph or less.

Transportation Secretary Joe Prather said the regulation should be ready in two to three months.

With the order, Beshear hopes that Kentucky will land a ZAP (Zero Air Polution) electric car manufacturing plant that would cost more than $100 million to build and equip.

Randy Waldman, chief executive officer of Integrity Manufacturing in Bullitt County, said ZAP, which now makes vehicles in China, will announce by the middle of this month where it wants to locate an American facility.

He said the choice is between Kentucky and Indiana and that ZAP is looking at several sites in Kentucky, including a plot in Simpson County that the company has already secured an option to buy.

The three-wheeled electric cars use no gasoline and make no noise, but can't go faster than about 40 mph. A ZAP car that can seat four people costs about $11,700 and a truck that seats two runs about $12,400. The cars can go up to 45 miles on a charge that costs about 60 cents.

Leading Republican lawmakers had asked Beshear earlier this year to sign an order allowing low-speed electric vehicles on state roads. However, that action came after the legislature did not consider a measure proposed earlier this year by Rep. Steve Riggs, D-Louisville, that would have legalized the cars.