ZENN stands for Zero Emission, No Noise and it’s the name of the company that designed a small car qualified as a Neighborhood Electric Vehicle (NEV) and launched on the market at the beginning of 2006. The electric car had compact dimensions and offered a top speed of only 25 mph. The energy stored in its battery pack was similarly unimpressive, as it gave you only a 40 miles range.

Unfortunately, the vehicle proved to be a complete failure and its production has been ceased in 2009. Zenn struggled to revamp sales by cutting the price down to $9.995, but this wasn’t enough, as in its entire life span the Zenn electric car was sold in only 500 units.

The company however didn’t abandon the fight and now is focused on selling electric technologies to other manufacturers.

Design

2006 - 2009 Zenn Electric Car Exterior
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Being only 120.8 inches long, the Zenn is only slightly longer than the Smart Fortwo. On the other hand, it’s narrower and shorter than the German super mini. Despite its compact exterior dimensions, the Zenn’s electric car is pretty heavy weighting nearly one tonne. To increase the body’s stability, Zenn designed its electric car whit very short overhangs, so all four wheels are pushed far into each corner.

The exterior design won’t win you any beauty awards, so don’t expect to any sporty lines as all you get is a dull bulky shape. The bulky shape is enhanced by the short nose which is dominated by a pair of big headlights and a pretty unique grille traversed by a set of horizontal stripes.

Under the grille, there is a dull bumper and a pair of integrated fog lamps. To break up the monotony of the front fascia, Zenn sculpted two small creases into the hood, but they aren’t of much help. Other creases are running along the sides were we also find a set of flared wheel arches.

Around the back there, is a small hatch fitted with a wide screen and flanked by two vertically placed taillights.

Surprisingly the entire body is made of impact ABS plastic which offers the advantage of keeping the car’s weight slightly lower than a conventional metallic skin. It’s true that carbon fiber could’ve been a better option, but it’s significantly more expensive than plastic.

Interior

2006 - 2009 Zenn Electric Car Interior
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A strange thing happens from the moment you open the door. The window seems to have a mind of its own and descends about four inches and after you’ll shut the door, the window slides back up. This small detail can be usually found at luxury cars as it helps to eliminate any cabin pressurization, making the door easier to close.

Once on board, you are surrounded by a very wide glass area which gives the cabin an airy and welcoming feel. Moreover, the car is also offered with an optional electric sunroof which lets even more natural light inside.

What’s not so welcoming however it’s the cheap looking dash and the rudimentary steering wheel. You won’t like the hard plastics either and most of the materials seem part of the third class. Not to mention about the doubtful build quality.

Though, it’s not all bad news, as the cabin is more spacious than expected. It’s enough room for two adults and you also get 13 cubic feet of storage space in the rear, accessible beneath the hatchback. The seats are decent as well, and if you’re an average sized guy, you won’t have any significant complains about leg- or head-room.

There aren’t any complains about the controls emplacement either, as every button mounted on the center console can be reached without too much drama. What’s less intuitive however is the small instrument panel found in the middle of the dashboard. Here you can find useful stats about the speed, distance and battery charge.

Other interior features offered for the Zenn Electric Car are power windows, a radio and air conditioner.

Engines and performance

2006 - 2009 Zenn Electric Car Exterior
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At the heart of the Zenn Electric Car sits a 30 hp motor paired with six sealed lead-acid batteries. To maintain a proper body balance, the batteries are placed at the front and at the back of the car in two equal pairs.

When batteries remain without juice, you will need four hour to recharge 80 percent of their energy and 8 hours to recharge them fully. To give the car a slightly bigger driving range, Zenn added standard regenerative breaks, which transform the mechanic energy used for braking into electric energy, which is them stored in the battery pack.

As it was expected, the motor’s power is too small to offer any sort of spirited driving and the top speed is rated at merely 25 mph. Though, with some modifications made under the hood, the Zenn EV can reach a maximum speed of 35 mph.

To reach this speed, all you have to do is to keep your foot on the go pedal, as there isn’t any clutch or gearbox to worry about. You can select from three driving modes – forward, reverse and neutral – by means of a dash mounted rocker.

On road, the Zenn drives like any super mini, which means it’s bouncy, boring and the suspensions will inform you about every bump found in the pavement. Unfortunately, the plastic body won’t help too much with the vehicle’s rigidity and neither the classical steel frame.

Verdict

2006 - 2009 Zenn Electric Car Exterior
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The Zenn Electric Car was a relatively innovative product, as despite the fact that was basically a NEV (Neighborhood Electric Vehicle) it looked like an average car. Thanks to this fact, the Zenn didn’t have any direct rivals, as all the other NEVs had a basic construction leaving their occupants exposed to the elements.

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