2009 Tazzari Zero

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Until recently, the world of automotive industry was relatively quiet, as there weren’t many new manufacturers who dared to enter in this game, mostly because the combustion engines are very complicated and not anyone is able to come up with a good unit.

Things are starting to change pretty fast, though. As the electric drive trains are relatively easy to develop and a battery provider can be found pretty easy, we are assaulted by new brands that want to try their luck in this new segment.

One of the newest companies that entered the EV playground comes from the aluminum industry and it’s named Tazzari. It is an Italian company specializing in manufacturing aluminum parts. Since the company knows almost everything about aluminum, it has designed its new vehicle with a cast-aluminum frame which makes it lightweight.

The power comes from a 15 kW asynchronous three-phase motor which is paired with a pack of lithium ion batteries. The Tazzari Zero is already available on the market and its price starts at $26,500 (excluding taxes).

Hit the jump for more information on the Tazzari Zero.

Exterior

Tazzari Zero

Measuring 2.88 m long, 14.3 m tall, and 15.0 m wide, the Tazzari Zero is slightly longer and lower than the electric Smart Fortwo. These compact dimensions make it a good city car, but also give it a pretty cool stance.

As far as design goes, the Tazzari Zero reminds us of Mini’s retro style. However, unlike the Mini’s design, which is a mix between classy and conventional styles, the Zero’s appearance is represented by a futuristic approach.

For starters, the upper part of the body (the wheel arches and the side skirts) are all painted in a different color than the body, which gives the vehicle a unique appearance.

As with most cars these days, the front end received the most attention from the company’s designers. Featuring a set of twin circular headlights mounted deep into the body, the front end looks pretty simple and elegant, without any extravagant lines to spoil the clean style.

The same clean style is also representative for the front bumper which is fitted with two round fog lamps.

Viewed from the side, the Tazzari Zero looks even simpler and from this point of view, it will be easier to notice its absolutely flat hood and roof which give it a Tonka-toy look. The minimalist style is also enhanced by the thick B pillar and the straight waistline which forms a parallel line with the road.

The back of the car resembles the front end’s style, featuring a pair of twin taillights mounted pretty high on each side of the number plate.

The 15 inch wheels are pushed far into each of the four corners, so both front and rear overhangs are very short. This design gives the vehicle a pretty bold look, but also helps it stay better planted on its wheels.

To customize your Zero you can choose from 12 body colors and three rim colors.

Interior

Tazzari Zero

Inside, the Tazzari feels pretty cramped, but the interior design is attractive with a modern looking center console and a practical dashboard.

The instrument cluster is placed on top of the center stack and consists of two round gauges which display speed and various stats about the electric powertrain. Underneath it, there are four colored buttons, each associated with one of the four driving modes - race, economy, standard, and rain.

We especially like the three spoke steering wheel which gives the cabin a sportier look and offers a confident grab.

The seats are a bit cramped for our tastes and head room is also pretty limited. Front and rear luggage compartments are also limited and offer a total of six cubic feet of storage space.

Fortunately, the lack of room is compensated by a long list of comfort features which include power windows, fog lights, electric mirrors, radio with MP3, USB input, iPod accessibility, and a 12-volt socket.

Engine and Performance

Tazzari Zero

For the moment, the Tazzari Zero is not certified for use on US highways and it’s currently classified as a neighborhood electric vehicle (NEV), with a top speed limited to 35 mph. After the certification is approved, the Zero’s maximum speed will be increased to 56 mph which is still under the standards set by other vehicles in its class.

The three-phase electric motor cranks out 20 hp and 111 lb-ft of torque available at zero rpms. Thanks to its decent torque, the motor is able to move the 1195 pounds car without too many struggles.

The motor sends its power to the rear wheels and is located just aft of the batteries, thus giving the vehicle a perfect 50/50 weight distribution between front and rear.

To keep its motor alive, Tazzari uses a pack of lithium-ion batteries which are housed in a pair of aluminum cases under the bucket seats. The batteries need 9 or 10 hours to be fully recharged at a 220-volt cable, or only 4 hours at a 380 volts socket. The charging times are on par with what you’ll usually find in this class, but the autonomy is rated at only 88 miles, being a bit shorter than expected.

Tazzari claims that the top attributes of its Zero are the superior handling abilities. On the road, the Tazzari Zero stays well planted on its wheels as the position of motor and batteries give it a low center of gravity. The wide track and the long wheel base also help to give the vehicle excellent stability, while the steering is sharp and accurate.

On the other hand, regardless of what driving mode you select, the suspension remains stiff and unforgivable, sending every road irregularity directly to your spine.

Conclusion

Tazzari Zero

The Tazzari Zero has its flaws, but overall it’s a pretty cute electric bug. It’s not a secret that it’s a basic car featuring a cramped cabin, no ABS, no air bags, and less than sporty performance.

On top of that, however, the Zero is kind of cool and we like its efficiency and the minimalist exterior style. It is also pretty well built, but the price is a bit peppered for what it has to offer.


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