EEStor powered CityZENN targeted for fall 2009

We can only hope, right?

ZENN Motor Co. held its annual general meeting today and offered some more insight into when it expects product from Cedar Park, Texas-based EEStor and when it plans to come out with a highway-speed electric vehicle using EEStor’s “game-changing” energy-storage technology.

That date would be fall 2009, the company said — a far cry from orginal talk of 2007 but, if the product delivers on its promises, I’m sure it will be worth the wait. “The cityZENN is planned to be a fully certified, highway capable vehicle with top speed of 125 KPH/80 MPH and a range of 400 kilometres/250 miles. Powered by EEStor, the cityZENN will be rechargeable in less than 5 minutes, feature operating costs 1/10th of a typical internal combustion engine vehicle and be 100 per cent emission-free,” the company said in a statement following the meeting.

One point: I expect the “rechargeable in less than 5 minutes” comment would be true only if there are special charge stations available, since I’m told this wouldn’t be possible from a standard home outlet.

ZENN chief executive Ian Clifford said EEStor’s storage technology is in “advanced stages of commercialization” and that commercial product will first be shipped to ZENN in 2008. Though the company said it has not yet tested the technology in a vehicle application yet. The company also plans new 2009 versions of its low-speed ZENN, including a four-passenger car and a utility vehicle.

Talks are also under way with some of the automotive OEMs, though Clifford wouldn’t mention names. ZENN has the right to enter joint ventures with OEMs to produce vehicles with its EEStor-powered “ZENNergy drivetrain.” The company also plans to develop and market its ZENNergy drive systems for retrofitting and conversion of existing internal combustion vehicles. The initial target, the company said, will be large, high-profile fleets.

Someone at the meeting asked about the cost of the highway-speed cityZENN. Clifford commented that he expects some premium compared to internal-combustion alternatives, but also expects the car to be competitive with comparative gas-guzzlers and well within the range of affordability for prospective car owners.

Dick Weir, founder and CEO of EEStor, told me a few weeks ago that there would be an announcement soon on permittivity of its barium titanite powder, considered a major benchmark that would trigger future payments to EEStor from ZENN, and I can only assume Kleiner Perkins as well. No word yet, though I’m told EEStor is working on various aspects of its technology in parallel with the goal having a production run of commercial product in 2008.

Sometimes this whole story is like one of those dreams in which you’re running toward something but the ground keeps slipping from under you… One thing I will say though: ZENN has done a decent job throughout all this of building its brand.