Cancel
Advanced Search
KEYWORDS
CATEGORY
AUTHOR
MONTH

Please click here to take a brief survey

That ZENN Moment

By WorldChanging Canada blogger Mark Tovey

One way to enter the electric car market, is through the high end, as Tesla or Venturi have done: offer high-performance vehicles with a high-end price tag -- EV as status symbol. Another way to enter is through the low end. Offer an inexpensive, low-speed vehicle that is good for lugging groceries. The ZENN (Zero Emissions No Noise) car is one such offering, and it's made in St. Jerome, Quebec, by Feel Good Cars of Toronto.

There aren't many Canadian designed and built cars, let alone Canadian designed electric cars.

The ZENN is considered to be a success story for ITAQ (the Québec Advanced Transportation Institute). ITAQ and Feel Good Cars won a prestigious international award for sustainable mobility in June (the Gold medal in the urban vehicle category at the Michelin Bibendum Challenge).

There was a fuss recently because the ZENN electric car couldn't yet be sold in Canada, but on Friday Transport Canada relented and you will presumably soon be able to buy them in Canada.

Don't rush right out to buy one, however, if you're in a rush. They're a low-range, low speed vehicle. The ZENN is speed-regulated to 40 km/h (25 mph) to comply with Low Speed Vehicle (LSV) standards. The will travel 56km (35 miles) on a single charge of their NiMH batteries.

LSV's are popular in markets where most driving is in and around the neighbourhood, like communities of retirees in Florida, places where electric golf carts (also considered LSV's) are becoming an increasingly popular means of transportation.

There's an account on the Environment Canada website (Environmental Protection Branch, Quebec Region) about what it's like to drive a ZENN in Montréal, by Luc Couillard of the Agence Métropolitaine de Transport (AMT):

One day, the driver of a 4X4 jokingly challenged us to a race. My ZENN and I arrived at the light only four seconds behind the 4X4 and we took off again neck and neck! What's the point in having a super powerful car when the average speed downtown is only 13 km/h?

The future may be even more interesting. ZENN has purchased 2.3% of eeStor, which is working on an ultracapacitor technology. Ultracapacitor technologies, if they are proven reliable, are a game-changing technology (another Canadian company, epod, is also working on one). Ultracapacitors would remove the primary obtacle to wide-spread adoption of electric cars: range.

ZENN's stake in eeStor would allow them to be the first car manufacturer to exploit eeStor's ultracapacitor technology in marketing a production electric car with the range and quick refueling times provided by the internal combustion engine. Although this claim has been greeted by skepticism, it is claimed, for instance, that a car run on EEstor could be charged in 5 minutes, could run for 500 miles on $9 of electricity, and would allow a car to travel 500 miles on a charge.

ZENN's CEO reports himself not skeptical.

http://www.worldchanging.com/archives/004627.html

http://www.worldchanging.com/archives//007352.html

"Under its technology Agreement with EEStor, Inc., ZENN holds certain worldwide exclusive licenses for EEStor’s batteries for new small and medium-sized low speed and highway capable vehicles (up to 1,400 kgs curb weight). ZENN also holds worldwide exclusive rights for EEStor’s batteries for the conversion of any used internal combustion passenger vehicle to electric drive. The Technology Agreement is in good standing.

While continuing to grow its core business of assembly and distribution of low speed electric vehicles, ZENN Motor Company is actively pursuing the commercialization of EEStor technology for its exclusive worldwide markets."


http://www.cleanvehicletest.com/

Of course, the big question:

Would you buy a ZENN as it stands, once it becomes available in Canada? What are the things you'd want to know about such a vehicle if you were considering one?

Bookmark and Share


Comments

There are a couple of ZENN cars here in Fairfield, Iowa, and I've been really unimpressed by them... mainly because I used to drive a 1976 Sebring-Vanguard CitiCar, which was nearly identical technology but faster, cheaper, and with greater range. (Also, dare I say, cuter. Why can't the ZENN look more like a Smart ForTwo?)

I think it's great that ZENN has managed to carve out a viable niche for these vehicles -- there is definitely a place for them -- but they should not be mistaken for a new idea, either in technology or design. And environmentally, a bike -- even an electric bike -- with a cargo trailer is far preferable for those who are willing and able to ride.


Posted by: Ben Stallings on 11 Nov 07

OK , I am glad someone is working on EV cars, but get real. I am a grandmother - on a limited budget I need a vehicle that would take me to the store and once and awhile out to see the grand kids - I NEED A VEHICLE that will go much farther and to get to the grandkids (they live over 100 miles away) - I NEED a vehicle that can go on the highway at highway speeds.
The Ford company had a Electic Truck and General Motors had the EV1 - they were both recalled and crushed -
I have looked at the Smart Car and the Zap and the Honda Hybrid all are good options but I also know Electric vehicles are part of our future.
I do believe someone has the technology out there but for some reason just doesn't want to use it.
I am ready to buy a Electric Vehicle, I just need one that can get me to where I want to go.


Posted by: Sandra Dix on 11 Nov 07

The problem with ZENN is probably what this overly optimistic article cited as a positive - the EESTor capacitors. Whether this capacitor ever comes to market is uncertain. EEStor claimed 6 months ago that their caapcitors would be delieverd to ZENN for testing ebfore the end of the year. That apparently has now changed, and what's even worse, an exec has unexpectedly suddenly left EEStor withput comment, leading many to believe that the device will fail.
There is no good evidence (or even reason) for believing the capacitor will succeed. I will be flabbergasted if it actually works. And so will plenty of capacitor engineers. EEStor has been making claims that no one believes.


Posted by: kent beuchert on 11 Nov 07

That comment about EV-1s being crushed obviously isn't aware that both Honda and Toyota also built electric vehicles, and crushed most of them as well.
The EV-1 seldom could exceed 100 miles - only with new batteries, and no A/C in operation and no hills
to climb. The EV-1 could not be legally sold - GM was required by the Feds to lease the car and to recover all the vehicles at the end of the lease period. The film "Who killed..." lied about all of this. The EV-1 was deemed an "experimental vehicle" by the Feds. It cost a small fortune (over $44K) and has a $20,000 battery pack that lasted about 5 years. It required 6 to 8 hours to recharge. Despite the cherry picked customers in the film, the EV-1 drivers came to acquire negative views of their EV-1s. Few renewed their leases when they expired and GM never was able to lease all 1100 vehicles.


Posted by: kent beuchert on 11 Nov 07

It appears that most people want the same result, an all electric PLUG-IN vehicle. If you want an all electric PLUG-IN vehicle, it is quite simple how to get one. All you have to do is to tell you family, and friends, to notify Chrysler, Ford, and GM that you will not purchase another product from them until they offer an all electric PLUG-IN vehicle.

Let’s skip the Hybrids, Bio-fuels, etc. and immediately solve the problem. Consider the pressure on the big 3 to give its customers what they want. Additionally, how do you think they will react to the threat 6 months with no product sales? The American public has the power, and the big 3 has the ability, let’s get what we want. Don’t think for a second that the thought of 2 million lost automobile sales won’t motivate the automobile industry!

The only real question is, will you take the time to unite and force the automobile manufacturers to produce what you want to purchase.

In my case, I will not buy another GM product until the eVolt is made available! And, I am telling all my family, and friends, to do the same thing.


Posted by: Paul W. Grimmett III on 11 Nov 07

While I can appreciate confidentiality with a new technology, EEStor's cloak and dagger secrecy is really starting to make me skeptical about whether their ‘super capacitor’ is fact or fiction.

I wish them the best and if/when they do deliver what they promise hope that they come to an agreement with an organization such as Tesla Motors (or ZENN develops a new, far more attractive body style).

Other concerns are that there is nowhere that I drive where I can go 25 MPH for more than a few blocks. Most of the speed limits in my area are just not that low nor are they obeyed by the majority of the drivers on the road. Add to that, I commute to work and have no use for a car that can not do freeway speeds.

Finally, what good is a great car if it is so unattractive that no one wants to buy it?


Posted by: LB Williams on 11 Nov 07

"The EV-1 could not be legally sold - GM was required by the Feds to lease the car and to recover all the vehicles at the end of the lease period. The film "Who killed..." lied about all of this. The EV-1 was deemed an "experimental vehicle" by the Feds."

Thi is a lie in itself, these were fully roadworthy vehicles themselves crash tested ect. The decision to crush them was GM's and has nothing to do with the "Feds".


Posted by: Streetcar Eddie on 12 Nov 07

Small correction, but the batteries in the ZENN are lead-acid, not NiMH.

At $14,000, the vehicle is priced about double that of a base GEM car, which is manufactured in the United States, and has similar range and performance.

I drove one of these ZENN vehicles recently, and while novel, would never get one. The range is very small, and it would definitely get even smaller in cold weather - especially if one started turning on the heater.

If I were going to have a neighborhood-electric vehicle, I would want the people around me to know that's what it was. Instead, since this looks like a normal (albeit small) vehicle at first glance, other drivers will expect it to perform like a normal car. Driving it, it was limited to more like 23 mph and could only do about 18 mph on a moderate hill. The ride was jerky and extremely rough.

When one can buy a high-quality Honda compact car that gets 35 mpg for the same price, it really doesn't make rational sense to get one of these vehicles.


Posted by: babar on 12 Nov 07

The electric vehicle, I don't believe, will ever be successful until big business, like the OIL industry, does not run the world. As much hurt as the American auto industry is suffering at the moment could be solved simply but the corporations don't want to give the American people what they want, and they'll cut their noses off to spite their face. It's sad in a way that America, and soon the world, is reliant on fossil fuels for mobility, but until America gets off its DUFF and actually makes the sacrifice they say they would make, Americans can just drive their cars to the corner store, two blocks away, to get their 16oz. bottle of soda that's more expensive than gasoline. If you buy it, they'll just make more and of course charge you more for it on a continuing basis. Don't want or can't afford a new electric car then have your 20 year old ??? converted. America can do it but we have to work together. Like voting for a real president with real voting machines. Want the truth, look for it, want to lose weight, work for it, want to drive electric, go for it. It's here.


Posted by: m. edmund howse on 13 Nov 07

You people are morons...

Take into consideration for a moment, if you can, that there are ideal conditions and personal transportation requirements that make electric vehicles such a smart buy.

1. Short range demand
2. Low speed demand
3. Temperate climate
4. Time to acquire a return on investment (duh)

Zenn Motor Company has invested in a 'supercapacitor' created by EEStor to replace the lead-acid battery. This is NOT a battery itself. It is a hybrid of a battery and a capacitor. I advise you to research these products before adding worthless opinions which do nothing but clutter up this page.

Try Wikipedia....


Posted by: Johnny Bone Dice on 15 Nov 07

You people are morons...

Take into consideration for a moment, if you can, that there are ideal conditions and personal transportation requirements that make electric vehicles such a smart buy.

1. Short range demand
2. Low speed demand
3. Temperate climate
4. Time to acquire a return on investment (duh)

Zenn Motor Company has invested in a 'supercapacitor' created by EEStor to replace the lead-acid battery. This is NOT a battery itself. It is a hybrid of a battery and a capacitor. I advise you to research these products before adding worthless opinions which do nothing but clutter up this page.

Try Wikipedia....


Posted by: Johnny Bone Dice on 15 Nov 07

Which electric car do you own and drive daily, Johnny?


Posted by: Pret on 15 Nov 07

For the foreseeable future, no electric car is going to be a perfect fit for everyone. The ZENN car has a niche market and for those people in that market it is a great option.

Until electric cars start selling, major car companies are not going to have the incentive and startups are not going to have the money to make anything better.

If you want electric cars to succeed, you need to start putting your money where your mouth is and start "investing" in our future.


Posted by: Derek on 17 Nov 07

I live in a Florida retirement community and have never seen a low speed electric. We all use golf carts, which can be up motored to go 28 MPH and cost less than $3500, with 6 deep cycle LA batteries that cost about $90 apiece. I also can't lug any groceries in a LSV - the stores are all located on a 55 MPH highway. Practically everyone here has a golf cart and plays golf, so why would anyone here want to shell out over $5,000 for a LSV that can't be used
on the golf course and can't get to the grocery store?
It would make no sense whatsoever.


Posted by: TC Gray on 22 Nov 07

The future is transit and cycling. There are too many people in the world for everyone to drive their own vehicle. It is just not sustainable. We are reaching peak everything that it takes to build a vehicle.

We should not waste resources and efforts on electric cars and instead create great rail and rapid transit systems. Electric bikes, buses, trucks are fine.


Posted by: Richard Campbell on 25 Nov 07



EMAIL THIS ENTRY TO:

YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS:


MESSAGE (optional):


Search Worldchanging

Worldchanging Newsletter Get good news for a change —
Click here to sign up!


Worldchanging2.0


Website Design by Eben Design | Logo Design by Egg Hosting | Hosted by Amazon AWS | Problems with the site? Send email to tech /at/ worldchanging.com
©2012
Architecture for Humanity - all rights reserved except where otherwise indicated.

Find_us_on_facebook_badge.gif twitter-logo.jpg