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Buy a house, get the electric car thrown in

Porteon is the latest entry into the (s)low-speed vehicle market.

In Mexico, you'll soon be able to buy a house and put a new electric car on the mortgage as part of the package.

Porteon Electric Vehicles, a low-speed electric car company, has signed a deal with a developer in Mexico to effectively bundle its cars with the sale of a home, according to CEO Kenneth Montler, speaking at the Dow Jones Alternative Energy Innovations Conference taking place in Redwood City, Calif.

Porteon's electric vehicles, however, are a far cry from the Tesla Roadsters. The cars, which will come out in the second quarter of next year, top out at around 25 miles an hour. The initial cars will be launched at resorts and elderly communities. Later, the cars will be sold to college campuses and military bases. The U.S. military actually has issued requirements to buy low-speed alternative energy vehicles.

"We will transition to a highway car" over time, Montler said.

Other car companies competing in this space include Miles Automotive, Zap, and Zenn Motors. The big question with many of these low-speed companies is how large the ultimate market will be. I've been to Palm Springs. There are several retirement communities, but they are isolated from grocery stores and movie theaters by mini-freeways where the speed limit is 50. Montler argued that "new urbanism" will allow people to live most of the time in relatively confined areas, but it's not everywhere yet.

Although not the fastest car in the world, Porteon's car will be cheap. It will sell for around $7,000 to $9,000. The cars will run on hub motors--the motors are attached to the wheels--and get power from lithium ion or nickel metal hydride batteries. The car will also contain only 350 parts, making assembly and repair simple.