You’ve heard of Fisker, Tesla, Chevy Volt, and Better Place, but ZENN Motor Company is the quiet upstart lurking in the shadows that may have the Excalibur that propels electric vehicles into the mainstream. ZENN’s secret weapon goes by the name of EEstor, a company that has developed a type of capacitor for electricity storage called the ‘Electrical Energy Storage Unit’ (EESU). According to its patent application, these units will use high-purity barium titanate coated with aluminum oxide and glass to achieve a level of capacitance claimed to be much higher than what is currently available in the market. The claimed energy density of the prototype is 1 MJ/kg; existing commercial supercapacitors typically have an energy density around 0.02 MJ/kg, while lithium ion batteries are around 0.54–0.72 MJ/kg.1
ZENN has exclusive rights to EEstor technology for four-wheeled, light vehicles. In April 2008 ZENN Motor Company announced that a future highway speed electric vehicle using EEStor’s capacitors will achieve 80 mph (130 km/h) speeds, 250 mile (400 km) range and charge in 5 minutes (not from standard plug). ZENN is hoping these models will be ready by Fall of 2009 with a price range of $25,000-$30,000. This vehicle will be called the cityZENN.
With that said, there has been a lot of excitement surrounding EEstor, but very little information on its progress. So when Ian Clifford, founder of ZENN, took questions from concerned stockholders to casual electric car aficionados, he did his best to calm some jitters while not revealing too much. Supposedly, he has a non-disclosure agreement with EEStor so he cannot state whether or not he has actually seen and held their wonderful technology.
Highlights include Ian stating that they are still confident the EESU powered cityZENN will be lauched in late 2009, ZENN Motors will retrofit fleets of commercial vehicles with the ZENNergy drivetrain, and somebody asked about using EEstor technology in green sailboats.