Canadian electric vehicle maker ZENN Motor Company is to stop production of its LSV (Low Speed Vehicle) electric car after the launch of its final model later this month.
The ZENN car was supposed to be the first vehicle to use the much anticipated “EESU” energy storage device supplied by American company EEStor.
The EESU is a (yet to be seen) ultra-capacitor supposedly capable of providing enough capacity for 400 kilometers (250 miles) of range at 125 km/h (77 mph) yet have the ability to recharge in an astonishing 5 minutes.
The EESU was supposed to be supplied to the ZENN motor group at the end of 2007. Almost two years later, and with ZENN investing $2.5 million USD into EEStor, ZENN has finally fallen over as a vehicle manufacturer, with the promised EESU nowhere to be seen.
Understandably, ZENN claimed poor sales led to their demise. They weren’t lying either: less than 500 vehicles had been sold since production began in 2006. While waiting for the EESU to arrive, ZENN’s car used sealed lead acid batteries instead, with lackluster results.
The lead acid version had a range of just 80 kilometers (50 miles), and being a Low Speed Vehicle it’s top speed was limited to just 40 km/h (25 mph) in order to comply with LSV laws.
ZENN Motor Company obviously put their trust in EEStor’s delivery times. They took a leap, believing (and investing) in EEStor’s promised exclusivity for ZENN vehicles. Sadly it was not to be.
As the months and years dragged on, EEStor released press release after press release promising that more milestones had been reached, and that production was always just a few weeks away.
Naturally the critics and skeptics had a field day with each new delay. One of the main criticisms has been that EEStor’s EESU won’t be able to hold a charge at the high voltage claimed. Skeptics report that a capacitor with such a high voltage & density would break down internally and short-circuit. It hasn’t helped that EEStor have not allowed their EESU to be independently tested and verified.
So what now for the ZENN Motor Company and it’s staff? ZENN reports that it will keep its factory open for the immediate future to service the existing sold vehicles and from here on, ZENN will change its focus to providing electric drive trains to major auto makers instead.
This strategy still relies on the eventual delivery of the EESU from EEStor. If the critics are correct, they should cut their sizable losses and give up now. If the critics are wrong however, then every auto maker in the world will be knocking on ZENN’s door in just a few weeks.