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.