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ZENN Motor Changes Strategy to Sell EEstor-based Electric Drive Rather Than Its Own EVs

ZENN Motor Company Inc. (ZMC) has decided to switch its business strategy from selling electric vehicles to distributing an electric drivetrain powered by EEStor, once the EEstor EESU units are available. The EESU is a high-power-density multi-layered barium titanate ceramic ultracapacitor that the companies say is expected to provide energy densities of more than 450 Wh/kg and more than 700 Wh/L; charge in minutes; and have extremely long life. (Earlier post.)

In a press release, the company said the its previously announced cityZENN highway capable electric vehicle will not be developed into a standalone commercially available offering.

Integration of the ZENNergy drive in OEM vehicles has always been our long term objective...At the end of the day, we want to partner with all OEMs so that consumers can drive a variety of electric vehicles across numerous automotive brands with one common denominator—they are all Powered by ZENNergy.

A significant amount of the work that our engineering team has done to-date on the cityZENN project applies directly to ZENNergy drive. Leveraging this work will greatly assist our discussions with prospective partners across the automotive industry and will allow our product marketing and engineering teams to focus wholly on bringing ZENNergy drive solutions to market. Given the timelines involved, introducing the cityZENN directly into the marketplace would have ultimately competed with our prospective OEM and Tier 1 supplier engagements and create unnecessary near-term confusion at the consumer level.

We have the opportunity to either challenge a small part of the market as an OEM, or to leverage the numerous established OEMs with their respective brands and infrastructure. With access to global platforms through multiple partners, we believe we can be much more successful as a strategic technology provider than an automaker.

—Ian Clifford, Chief Executive Officer of ZENN Motor Company

ZMC owns approximately 10.7% of the equity of EEStor, Inc. Under a Technology Agreement with EEStor, ZMC holds the worldwide exclusive rights to incorporate EEStor’s EESU for new passenger vehicles up to 1,400 kilograms curb weight (net of batteries); golf carts, Low Speed Vehicles and certain utility vehicles; and the conversion of any class of used internal combustion 4-wheel vehicles to electric.

The companies say first production units of the EESU are now expected by the end of the year.


Henry Gibson

To base a business on a device that does not yet even power a Bunny is questionable. There is no real demonstration of the technology; perhaps Scuderi should buy EEStore as well. ..HG..


The real "news" is that eestor has requested safety testing by the UL.

Seems like this is either,
A)the logical thing you do with your 3600 volt storage device prior to taking it to market, or

B)One more step you take to make it appear you have something, even though you've never shown anyone a test unit in operation.

On the one hand, these guys have reason to be concerned that their path will be strewn with obstacles from competitors, so the closer they play things to the vest the better, and oh by the way, bleeding edge is more likely to involve delays.

For their part, ZENN never seemed like they would have the capital to ramp up full-sized car production to even a fraction of what the demand would be. ZENN being offered an exclusive in the first place was kind of nuts. Maybe Weir valued willingness to do things on his terms above other traits.

Anyway, Who would be the first major car company to slot in such a power supply and drive train, and sell a BEV for $25K?


No EEStor, like the past 5-10 years.


Zenn-like small BEVs will be built (assembled) in Pennsylvania by a Korean Company within about 2 years.

It will probably quickly grow to become an affordable e-city car by 2015 and an affordable e-highway car as battery technologies mature in 2015/2020.


Taking the announcement at face value, it seems to make business sense to prefer to be a potentially multi-million unit supplier instead of a niche manufacturer selling only a few thousand units a year. If their technology ever comes out, and works as promised, I would love to see conversion kits for existing vehicles (and if the price is right, I'd buy one).


Clifford made the same statement about becoming an OEM supplier to "every carmaker" during his interview on FOX news July 31, 2009. The video is on their web site. Actually I doubt that anyone believed Zenn could just start making high quantities of cars to compete with the Tesla, Volt, etc. That wouldn't make much sense considering the small size of the company and the earth-shaking potential of the EESU. But this announcement makes lots of sense. Their rights agreement with EESTOR seems to imply that they will somehow provide kits or parts to EV conversion companies.


If Zenn is to become a parts supplier, it may as well joint Magna International and multiply their possibilities.

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