EEStor and Zenn Motors – What’s the real story?

As reported in the Energy Blog and Clean Break, EEStor, a perenially stealthy Kleiner Perkins backed energy storage startup (KP invested $3 mm in EEStor according to the Zenn filings), is reportedly slated to deliver product to Canadian electric car maker Zenn (“Zero Emission No Noise”) formerly Feel Good Cars Inc, in 2007. Zenn’s business model is to buy diesel neighborhood vehicles (low speed vehicles) from Microcar, and integrate into them their all electric power system based on EEStor storage technology.

Previous reporting from Clean Break about delays at EEStor last year here. More detailed on EEStor technology claims on the Energy Blog as well. This story has been well covered, but always worth a little reading.

From a recent Zenn annual report (available at Sedar.com if you search for Feel Good Cars), EEStor’s ceramic ultracapacitor is supposed to deliver for a 52.2 kwh device of 300 lbs 4541 cubic inches, and 3-6 minute charge time (a comment from the Energy Blog link above, that it’s really the cost, not performance, that is the unique claim here. I haven’t dug through the old Zenn reports to see if I can find their supply agreement and any pricing information). Zenn has licensed the technology from EEStor for certain markets for $2.5 mm ($.75 mm already paid, the rest subject to milestones).

The Zenn site claims it sent its first production vehicles to dealers in November (unclear if this includes EEStor technology or not – but it does not appear so). And no mention of the number – so we shall have to wait for the next filing.

The bad news for KP and EEStor afficianados, though, is that Zenn is not exactly highly capitalized for a vehicle startup. At Jun 06 it had a US$2.8 mm/year burn, $2.2 mm in bank, which along with a subsequently raised $1.5 mm, would give them about 9 months of cash on hand today. Barring of course, the ramp needed to actually put a vehicle in production, or needing to pay almost all that cash to EEStor to make the license payments.

Not exactly the kind of stellar first customer you expect from a KP backed startup, but EEStor has apparently always been about the big bet, and likely there is some story with Zenn history here that I don’t know. As usual, it’s the EEStor mystery keeping the blog tongues wagging.

Author Neal Dikeman is a founding partner at Jane Capital Partners LLC, a boutique merchant bank advising strategic investors and startups in cleantech. He is the founding contributor of Cleantech Blog, and a Contributing Editor to AltEnergyStocks.com.

6 replies
  1. Anonymous
    Anonymous says:

    1. This glider comes without any internal combustion parts so their operation is fairly limited to installing the EV components. Several hours to do the job…think "build to order". Why would such as simple business model need a TON of cash?2. One should really visit the web site. While the financial info that has been published is a bit old, they do disclose they raised an additional $1.7 million Canadian dollars last November to fund expansion. Of course, we have no idea at this point how much of their cash was burnt last year.3. Zenn's web site clearly says the production cars are equipped with lead acid batteries. Just look at their web site at the try the Specifications page. (One could also infer this by their pathetic range.)

  2. aaron
    aaron says:

    I find the whole eestor thing very unlikely as Weir has made the claim that there is a production facility currently under construction in the Cedar Park area.A PI was hired to dig into this and found absolutely nothing, kind of hard to hid a factory on 200 to 300 acres .http://aaron-allaboutoil.blogspot.com/Also, I've discovered that Richard S. Wier, the son of Richard D. Weir runs an internet marketting company, well what more would you need to start a pump and dump internet scam than an internet marketting professional? I tried pointing this out on http://www.theeestory.com but they quickly tried to erase all evidence that I was member on the site. my motto was find the building, find the proof. I suspect that the admin of http://www.theeestory.com with their anonymous dns hosting information and anonymous contact info and eestor are one in the same entities.Its a shame that so much attention has been given to this snoke oil technology, when legitimate science like the silicon nano-wire battery holds a much greater promise.

  3. crossedworldaim
    crossedworldaim says:

    I am really excited about the new Eestor technology. In terms of capitalization, it seems like I read recently (August 2008) that they had raised approximately 16 million dollars in a stock offering. They also have equity in Eestor.Even if the Eestor technology does not fruit, Zenn still has plans to produce a highway-worthy vehicle. I was also just reading about a four-seater Zenn car that would be released in 2009. Pretty cool!

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