Cruising the Las Vegas Strip in a Kool Kar

By Noel Adams

October 26th 2003

Just a quick update. I have just returned from Las Vegas and I noticed that the KoolKarz location where I rented the NEV (Neon City) was closed. They still had the signs on the door but the office was empty. The other location at the West end of the Strip still seemed to be working although I only saw two of the Heartland EV NEVs while I was there.

September 7th 2003

The air was cool and there was a threat of rain in the air but on this Monday morning the Las Vegas Strip was still buzzing with traffic, as it is every day of the week. My wife Aggie and I crossed the street from Treasure Island and onto the lot of KoolKarz.

We had decided to rent one of their Neighborhood Electric Vehicles (NEVs) instead of driving from Casino to Casino in our own car.

KoolKarz rents their NEVs for as little as one hour but they had a special offer of about sixty dollars for a four-hour rental and that suited us fine. I filled out a rental form, showed my drivers license, and we were ready to hit the streets.

Don, the KoolKarz rep, took us out to the lot where we had a choice of colors including bright yellow and bright green. My wife selected shocking pink. The four seat vehicles are open sided like a golf cart. Their front headlights look like bug eyes, and the bright colors make them look like something from “Who Framed Roger Rabbit”.

Don gave us a quick once over of the car. You put the key in the ignition, with your foot on the brake you take off the parking brake and turn the key to the left for reverse or to the right for forward. He also warns us not to let the NEV freewheel down the steep slopes in the Casino parking lots. Apparently this has caused a number of the vehicles to burn out a motor and we would be responsible for any such damage.

He also shows us the map taped to the roof of the NEV. It shows the routes that you can drive on. This includes Las Vegas Boulevard all the way from Mandalay Bay to the downtown area and Convention Center Boulevard. Paradise road is not shown but Don assures us that we can drive down to the Hilton.

My wife and I buckled up our seat belts; I backed out carefully from the parking spot, and set out onto the Strip. I was a little nervous at first as I had never driven a NEV before and wasn’t sure what to expect. The warning note inside the vehicle says to remember to leave more space when merging into traffic but I found that acceleration was as good as I have seen on some cars and I soon found confidence merging into lanes.

The NEV doesn’t have power steering so it felt quite heavy to maneuver at first but I soon go used to it. The same applied to the brakes, which felt very hard until I had driven the car for a few minutes. I also found that there was no speedometer to tell you how fast we were traveling. The maximum speed of a NEV is 25mph so I had no worries about exceeding the speed limit.

Our first stop was at the Hilton. I was a bit concerned about heading onto Paradise road where cars typically travel much faster than on the strip. Fortunately traffic was quite light this Monday morning and I was relieved to see a 35mph speed limit sign which re-assured me that I could legally drive on this road.

When I pulled into the Hilton parking lot I became aware of just how rough the ride in this NEV was. There was construction going on and the road was very bumpy. Suspension on the NEV was minimal and every bump seemed to jar.

The Hilton is now home to the Star Trek Experience so the Casino is done out in a Deep Space Nine motif. We looked around the Casino, which appeared to be almost empty, then made a beeline for the nickel slots.

Many of the latest slots are more like video games than one-arm bandits. We selected a game called Little Green Men, which seemed appropriate given the space station décor, and settled down to some serious fun. We fed the machine with random banknotes then played for a while until the money ran out. We then took a another cruise around the casino before heading back to the NEV.

Our next stop was at Treasure Island. The open cart got quite windy and Aggie decided that she wanted to pick-up a headscarf. To get into the parking lot I had to negotiate a series of speed bumps. I hit the first one a little fast and we were nearly thrown out of the cart by the jolt. After that I was extra careful crossing speed bumps, slowing to a stop then rolling the NEV over them at very slow speed.

Aggie retrieved her headscarf and as we pulled out of the Treasure Island parking lot I noticed a lady taking our photograph. Before our rental ended we would be the subjects of someone’s snapshot on several occasions.

While driving I had tried to stay to the right so that I would be less likely to block traffic in the slow moving NEV but I found that if I kept it flat out I could keep up with traffic most of the time and on those occasions when cars could travel faster than 25mph they didn’t seem to bother about my slow speed and just sat behind me until the inevitable traffic light turned red and everyone would have to stop anyway.

I passed the Belagio and the Holiday Inn and turned left into the parking lot of Walgreen’s. All the parking spaces were full but the security guard on duty directed me to park in a vacant Taxi space.

Walgreen’s is situated on one of the busiest tourist areas in the world but for some inexplicable reason they didn’t carry a line of travel sized items like hair spray. Somewhat disappointed we stopped to pose for a few more pictures before turning back onto the strip for a visit to the Venetian.

On the drive back down the strip I got stuck behind a bus. In my car I might have tried to push my way into the next lane but I wasn’t about to try that in the NEV, I just didn’t have enough acceleration.

We turned into the Venetian where the road is done out like a cobble street. This was very bumpy for the NEV and Aggie began to feel carsick. At the entrance to the parking lot was a security guard checking people’s Ids. When he saw us driving up he just smiled, waved us through, and said “Welcome to the Venetian”.

The Venetian is one of the most beautiful properties on the strip. Inside the Hotel is a shopping complex that runs on both sides of the Grand Canal. Gondolas ply the waters of the canal, taking people on a romantic ride. The gondolier serenades his chargers as they float serenely along the canal. The standard of the singing is quite astounding.

In the casino we couldn’t find a game with an Italian theme so we chose one with a Surfer theme instead. We watched the electronic tumblers roll and giggled when we got three burly faced guys in a row that proceeded to tell us “I am the big Kahuna”. Luck, as usual, turned the way of the Casino and our money disappeared faster then a speeding Ferrari, so we abandoned the Casino as our thoughts turned to lunch.

Back at the parking lot we found another useful thing about our NEV. The high profile and bright pink color made it easy to spot. I no longer needed to walk up and down the isle wondering where I had left my car. I got off the elevator, looked along the rows of vehicles, and the NEV stood out in the crowd.

Aggie was still feeling a bit queasy so we decided to turn the NEV back in to Koolkarz a little early before picking out a restaurant for lunch.

Returning the car was just as easy as renting it. We pulled the car into a parking space, Don checked it out then gave us our credit card receipt and we were on our way.

I really enjoyed the time I spent driving the NEV but my wife would have preferred warmer weather and better suspension.

KoolKarz has two locations on the Las Vegas strip. They also have rental places in Santa Barbara, California, Florida and Texas.

Electrifying Times first discovered KoolKarz when we saw Anna Nicole Smith ride one of them on the E! Television Channel. We just learned that ZAP has acquired the vehicle rental business from KoolKarz. ZAP is apparently going to use KoolKarz to showcase their new line of L.U.V. NEVs. ZAP will also be selling Chinese Heibao EVs (50 is what we heard.)