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ZENN and the Art of Sustainable Living
25/09/2003

I saw a unique sight on Bloor Street tonight, on my way home from a unique restuarant in Koreatown. (I do recommend Buk Chang Dong Soon To Fu, on Bloor at Clinton.)

What I saw was a ZENN. It is a tiny little "neighbourhood electric vehicle" (NEV). It is also a "low speed vehicle" (LSV). To round out the acronyms, "ZENN" itself stands for "zero emissions no noise".

Besides being so small and unique, the car really caught my eye because it was parked between a pair of SUVs -- one of them a giant Ford Expedition, which weighs about five times more.

The ZENN seems to be designed and manufactured by a local Toronto company, Feel Good Cars. I first heard of this company a couple years ago, when I saw their earlier product. They were restoring Renault Dauphines to produce their own Dauphine Electric. It looked like a cool little car.

LSVs are legally limited to a top speed of about 40 km/h. The idea is that you would use a little car like this for driving around your neighbourhood, or around downtown. Obviously you can't take it onto the highways, and it wouldn't even really do very well on the suburban arterial roads. However, there does seem to be a demand for this type of vehicle, which is why more than 30 American states and the federal government in Canada have passed legislation for LSVs.

From the bit of online research I did tonight, it seems like the ZENN may be the most advanced car of its type. So, it's cool that the company is right here in Toronto.

However, I don't really think it would fit into my life. For these sorts of short trips in the city, I feel biking, walking, or taking the TTC are probably better options. The rare occasion I need a car is exactly the type of situation where the ZENN won't work. On the other hand, it might be a great choice for someone who drives everywhere, but does a lot of short and simple trips.


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