Saturday, October 10, 2009

Canada's $15,995 Zenn Electric Automobile

Toronto's little all electric Zenn automobile is an interesting choice for city driving. It has a low price of just $15,995 plus shipping or some options which is pretty low. It also has a really light curb weight as well at just 1,200 lbs. And it's an attractive little package.

But on the minus side, the Zenn is only a two-seater. And further despite the fact that electric engines tend to have lots of torque power, the Zenn is only capable of speeds up to just 25mph, which considerably less than many 50cc mopeds. Many two stroke 50cc mopeds can exceed 40mph, as can a few 4 stroke models as well.

Zenn's low top speed has caused the vehicle some licensing difficulty in Canada where it's produced. Normally Canadian traffic laws don't allow for such low speed vehicles to be operated on their streets. While the little cars were quickly approved for use in the United States, it took two years of red tape up in Canada for these cars to be approved there. Situations like this with the Canadian government have e raised questions about how devoted to fuel efficient alternative transportation the Canadian government really is.

Zenn is supposed to have a higher speed, highway speed legal version available very soon called the CitiZenn. A five minute fast charge could be available from special charging stations. However, normal home charging could take 2 to 4 hours for the 250 mile range and 78mph top speed. The CitiZenn also features a higher price tag of about $25,000 as well. But this model appears to be far more practical than the much slower and cheaper model which only has a 40 mile range. This faster model should face a lot less licensing problems in Canada and elsewhere as well.

The CitiZenn model is really what this upstart small car company really needs. It's a real world use vehicle compared to the serious limitations of the existing model. But otherwise, this little company really deserves praise for building some decent quality little electric vehicles. Compared to the fragile early 1900's models like the Baker, which was too frail not to be damaged by the bad streets in those days, sharply limiting sales, Zenn is slowing building a line of decent automobiles for everyday use.


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