Zenn Motors is the Toronto-based electric car company that was founded by Ian Clifford.
To date the company has only produced low volumes of low speed neighborhood electric vehicles, but had been planning to introduce a highway capable electric car called the cityZENN.
Zenn has based its future and that car on a partnership with EEStor, which is known to be secretly working on mass producing a new type of battery that would surpass lithium ion in every way. Its far cheaper to produce, several times more energy dense, can be recharged in minutes and has a functionally unlimited lifetime.
Zenn has taken incrementally greater ownership stakes in EEStor based on milestones for producing that battery or EESU. At this point no batteries have ever been publicly demonstrated, but Zenn holds a 10.7% stake.
Clifford has just announced that his company would no longer be pursuing mass production of the cityZENN car. I had the chance to discuss this with him.
"Our decisions regarding cityZENN continue to evolve in response to advancements in electric vehicle deployment across the industry since we announced cityZENN a couple of years ago," said Clifford.
He notes the plethora of new EV manufacturers that have exploded on the scene including Tesla, Fisker, and Think, fresh with billions of dollars of government aid.
"Why people would want ZENN to become another OEM is beyond me," he said.
Instead Zenn will focus on producing electric drivetrains called ZENNergy Drive systems that will be EEStor-powered and would be supplied to automakers.
"Integration of ZENNergy Drive in Tier 1 and OEM product has always been our long term objective," says Clifford. "The cityZENN program was always designed as a proof of concept for ZENNergy Drive."
"Now that virtually every OEM around the world has announced some form of battery EV or plug-in hybrid program it makes sense for the Company to focus entirely on ZENNergy Drive's unique value proposition to maximize ZMC's penetration throughout the industry, working in conjunction with Tier 1 and OEM's around the world," he said.
He is enthusiastic about the potential of that business model.
"Leveraging ZENNergy Drive, powered by EEStor, across the industry is such a massive opportunity," he says. "Last year 48,000,000 new cars built fit within our 1400 kg exclusivity on EEStor's technology."
Clifford denies that there has been any material change in EEStor's development and assembly of EESUs.
"With respect to the anticipated timeline of EEStor's technology," said Clifford. "EEStor has publicly stated that they expect to complete initial component testing in September 2009 and deliver functional technology to ZMC by the end of the year."
He clarifies that although EEStor will do component testing in September they may or may not reveal those results publicly.
"With respect to the initial Component testing, it is up to EEStor to announce the results," he said. "It should be noted that while EEStor publicly stated their intention to complete component testing, they did not indicate if they would publicly disclose those results. Component testing is not a milestone in our technology agreement with EEStor."