Zenn Ends Vehicle Production, Lays Off Staff in EEStor Bet

Zenn Motor has come to the end of its life as an electric car maker. The Toronto-based company’s announcement late Thursday that it has ceased production of its Zenn LSV model and laid off 15 employees who supported sales, marketing and production of the vehicle, marks the final shift to focus its efforts and financial resources entirely on a bet that ultracapacitor startup EEStor will make good on its ambitious performance claims.

The transition for Zenn from manufacturer to a would-be supplier for automakers and specialty vehicle 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 Zenn LSV low-speed electric model.

Instead, the company said it planned to pursue Clifford’s vision of an “Intel Inside model” with EEstor, providing an electric drive system (based on the Texas startup’s ultracaps) to other companies the way Intel’s chips are used in PCs from many companies.

The changes that Zenn announced this week, along with the closure of its production facility in Saint Jerome will have an important effect for the company as it awaits the delayed delivery of EEStor’s first commercial product: cutting costs. Zenn says it will now have a “significantly” reduced “rate of spend.”

As Clifford told Toronto Star reporter Tyler Hamilton back in October, “The transformative moment is with the commercial proof.” If and when that proof arrives, then according to Clifford, “the whole tenor of the discussion changes to the excitement about the reality.”

Zenn plans to provide more details on its current status and future plans at its annual shareholder meeting on Wednesday afternoon.

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