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Summary:

Canadian electric vehicle maker Zenn Motors has been stating its grand vision for a while: to supply a range of automakers and grid operators with energy storage technology created with partner EEStor. That’s what Zenn CEO Ian Clifford told us at the Fortune Brainstorm Green conference […]

zennergy1Canadian electric vehicle maker Zenn Motors has been stating its grand vision for a while: to supply a range of automakers and grid operators with energy storage technology created with partner EEStor. That’s what Zenn CEO Ian Clifford told us at the Fortune Brainstorm Green conference earlier this year. But this week, Clifford seems to have accelerated those plans and told Reuters and GM-Volt that Zenn no longer plans to sell its own higher-speed electric vehicle (the cityZENN car), and will also “shift focus away” from the low-speed electric it currently sells.

Instead, Zenn will now focus on acting as a supplier to the auto industry. Working with secretive EEStor, Zenn plans to make an electric drive train, the ZENNergy Drive system, which can deliver those oh-so-controversial performance claims from EEstor: 10 times the energy of lead-acid batteries at one-tenth the weight and half the price, with the ability to move a car 400 kilometers after a 5-minute charge.

Increased competition in the electric vehicle market played a role in Zenn’s decision to not make the cityZENN car, Clifford tells Reuters. “Why people would want ZENN to become another OEM is beyond me,” Clifford told GM-Volt.

In a way, it’s a smart decision by Zenn. Young electric vehicle makers need hundreds of millions of dollars in capital to build factories and mass produce EVs. Electric vehicle startups Tesla and Fisker had to turn to the Department of Energy for loans for their factory funds. But on the other hand, Zenn’s future is now even more tied to the success or failure of EEStor, which given EEStor’s secrecy and missed deadlines, is a risky play.

By Katie Fehrenbacher

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  1. So Zenn is really just an EESTOR investor at this point. I don’t think they have the credibility to even build a powertrain at this point, and who would buy it? If EESTOR’s technology works, then OEMs would buy the units directly for use in their own designs.

    Unfortunately, I don’t think EESTOR’s technology will work, but I guess this has been something to occupy journalists….

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    1. Jim!

      I guess you haven’t followed Zenn or Eestor very closly.
      Zenns future is completely interwoven with the the delivery of the EESU.
      I recommend this site for all the latest on this front: http://theeestory.com

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    2. Keep in mind that vehicles over 3000lbs could license directly with EEStor rather than going through ZENN. At least that was the original idea before they decided to just make the drive trains. Is it still the same? A lot of vehicles are over 3000lbs nowadays. My Honda Accord is just over this…

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  2. Jim I don’t recommend the site taa is referring you to. That is the site with the blogger with the bag over his head. Baghead and his believers interest is to pump Zenn. Baghead does an excellent job pumping Zenn that he can get BS information from Ian Clifford CEO of Zenn on a Saturday.

    I recommend this site:
    http://www.gm-volt.com/forum/showthread.php?t=2999

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  3. Is there an engineer in da house ?

    Seems like everybody wants the safety of being the components and dealing only with other businesses whom they expect to put it on the line and take the public risks on their behalf. Is this sounding far from it? Then the games go something like this: “my stuff is great, you misapplied it and asked of it what I told you it couldn’t. Your bad, not mine”

    Gotta agree the bit about these guys not being able to get money equal to the grounds budget for a modest top end estate is fishy to my nose. (refering to the link above http://www.gm-volt.com/forum/showthread.php?t=2999)

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  4. [...] Last month Zenn CEO Ian Clifford told reporters of his change in strategy, and that Zenn would no longer plan to sell its own higher-speed electric vehicle (the cityZENN car), and would also “shift focus away” from the low-speed electric it currently sells. While Clifford has had this vision of an “Intel Inside model” with EEStor for awhile (selling the ultracaps for other companies’ cars the way Intel’s chips are used in many companies’ PCs) he had not yet let the world know that he was trimming away any part of the company not based on the EEStor technology. [...]

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  5. [...] electric vehicle maker Zenn has been pretty clear in press interviews about its future plans with stealthy energy storage firm EEStor. Back in September Zenn said it [...]

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  6. [...] companies has been months in the making. Last fall, CEO Ian Clifford told reporters the company no longer planned to sell its first highway-speed electric car, the cityZenn, and that it would “shift focus away” from its existing product, the [...]

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