Are electric cars the way to go?

Insurance costs apparently vary widely in different jurisdictions in the United States but logically the costs tend to be lower because of lower operating speeds, and a smaller driving range.

Q. How safe are electric vehicles? When evaluating low speed vehicles what safety features should a consumer look for?

A. The ZENN conforms with the US FMVSS500 which specifies minimum safety standards for LSVs such as seat belts, safety glass, headlights, signals and other basic safety features found on conventional cars. However, the ZENN is also constructed on a proven automotive chassis with a patented, very rigid aluminum chassis which provides impact resistance for improved safety at the operating speed. Some other LSVs continue to be open-sided and do not ensure the same level of passenger safety.

Q. Some people may be concerned about the impracticality of LSV, specifically their short range and long recharging times. Can you comment on this?

A. The ZENN can achieve 80 per cent of a full charge in 4 hours and is typically recharged fully while plugged in overnight. Every morning when you get up, the ZENN is ready to go. Plugging in at home is a lot more convenient than having to line up at a gas station. Electric vehicles like the ZENN can also be plugged in wherever there is an opportunity to do so – at work, at the mall, commuter parking lot or other facilities with public charging stations.

The range of the ZENN is about 35 miles. In the United States, 47 per cent of Americans commute less than 20 miles a day. Many homes today have more than one vehicle in the driveway, so an electric vehicle makes perfect sense as a second car “of choice” for neighborhood travel, a ‘station car’ for travel to a transit node, or as a short-commute vehicle. Some progressive communities are planning LSV lanes for convenient and extended travel over a wider area.

Q. I’ve read that ZENN cars are sold both in the U.S. and the U.K. What is the legal status for operating LSV on public roads in Canada?

A. Aside from British Columbia, no province has passed LSV legislation to permit them to access public roads. Frankly, Canadian authorities, both federal and provincial, have been reluctant to allow electric vehicles in urban environments but we continue to be hopeful that the proven safety and efficiency evident from US experience will influence positive changes here. Currently we do NOT sell ZENN Vehicles in the UK.

Q. Some people have expressed concern for the long-term environmental hazard caused by the need to dispose of toxic battery materials. How will this issue be addressed?

A. Existing lead-acid battery technology already has one of the highest rates of recycling (95 per cent+) and a very well developed system for collection and disposal through automotive channels. The environmental benefits of electric vehicles should far outweigh any potential risk from wider use. ZENN Motor Company also holds the rights to a completely new technology for energy storage which promises to substantially improve performance without the threat of creating any new environmental challenges. Our technology partner has committed to deliver the first production unit by the end of this year.