Monday, April 14, 2008

Transportation ZENN

What does Zen mean to you?

I recently took a (somewhat challenging [surprisingly]) course in Chinese Philosophy recently and was introduced to the true and original idea of Zen. Not to imply that I'm somehow better suited to write about this than someone else; you could get the same information from wikipedia.

But I digress.

Zen is short for Zen Buddhism (or Chan Buddhism), a collection of principles of thinking devoted to letting go of all pre-conceived notions and, basically, going with the flow. By accepting Zen into your life you move past emotions and hang-ups and stress and worry in order to find a universal flow. It's a beautiful way of thinking but one I find myself very far from when I am cruising down a 6-lane freeway in SoCal. There is not a lot of Zen to be found on I-5, trust me.

One company, however, is looking to change that idea. Enter ZENNcars.

Here's a pic of one I saw at the Santa Monica Alt Fuel Expo:

ZENN stands for Zero Emissions No Noise and is poised to be the first mass-produced, usable, and widely-available electric car manufacturer to come to the states. Their brand credo:

Since we first began to walk, we have loved the feeling of movement.
To get around and see the world.
To be free.
Cars have given us mobility.
But with the heavy costs of pollution and oil dependency.
ZENN is about returning to the purity of that original feeling.
ZENN may look like a car, but it refuses to act like one.
You'll experience the simple joy of moving freely.
With silent, exhilarating acceleration
ZENN will quietly change the way you think about getting from A to B.
The air is clean and your conscience is clear.
ZENN is a car that, while it runs on electricity, is fueled by optimism,
The belief that individuals can make a difference,
That we can do better.
ZENN is enlightened mobility

That's... that's beautiful. Can you give me a minute?

OK, I'm good.. something in my eye... eyelash or something *sniff* I'm cool.

If anything, they have excellent copywriters, that must be said. The proof, however, is always in the numbers, particularly with cars. So what's the low-down?

I guess I should note thte vehicle I'm talking about. If you're messing about on the ZENNcar website, you're probably seeing the regular ZENN car with a 25MPH speed limit and a 35 miles range. While that's fine and dandy, the car I'm referring to is their upcoming subcompact, the cityZENN. Red Ferret has the skinny:
What’s even more interesting are reports that the company plans on releasing a ‘proper’ highway legal electric vehicle next year called the cityZenn, based around EEstor technology. We’re talking 80 mph and 250 mile range, rechargeable in less than 5 minutes. Yeah yeah, I know, believe it when we see it, but hey, these guys seem kosher and have actually invested substantial money in the EEstore company. We’ll see, eh?

That sounds like the EV silver bullet we've all been waiting for, IMHO. It certainly begs an important question: why does it take an hour or more to charge my cell phone but these guys are claiming a 5-minute recharge? Capacitors, son!

From Cleantech:
"We need to move away from chemical battery technology to a whole new way of storing energy for electric vehicles, with a solid infrastructure to support global roll out," said Ian Clifford, CEO of Zenn, at the company's annual general meeting.
"Through their massive improvements on energy storage and power density, EEStor will virtually eliminate all of the shortcomings of existing and proposed chemical battery technology."

Don't worry, I'll do a Green WotD about it soon.

Before I realized that the car promoted on the ZENN site was not the same as the one that is coming out next year, I built one. MSRP is $19,445, specs area here.

I'm all about the EV. I wasn't always but I am now. Electricity is something that humans are always going to need and in increasing amounts (assuming that the population increases or stays the same). The global energy crisis we're facing/seeing/fearing/blogging about includes, for the time being, two different components: transportation and everything else. The more we understand these two things to be the same, the better we understand the problem as a whole. Our energy problem is a global problem despite borders and wars and obfuscation through vocabulary. Energy is energy and however we get it now or in the future, we're going to need a lot of it. The most renewable options - widal, wind, solar, biomass - are all means for generating electricity and that electricity, in whatever form, will need to go towards powering our vehicles.

That is all.

No comments: