Zenith Motors: the Cleverest Idea at the 2014 Green Fleet Conference

An electric shuttle van.

Seats the same number of people as the one you probably took to the terminal the last time you flew.  Same as the one that drove you to your rental car.  Or took you around the corporate or educational campus buildings.

Significantly less maintenance.  Goodbye oil changes, see ya later air filter changes, and hasta la vista to emissions inspections.

Fuel costs fold into the facility electric bill.  Charging costs are as regular as fueling costs…but drastically lower, given $3.00/gallon gas (for now) versus the $0.75 equivalent cost of a kilowatt hour.

Freed from the cycles of gas prices.  Gas may be at “historic lows”, but who’s history are they talking about?  When was the last time you paid $1.25/gallon?  What decade?  What century?

Speed limited to 60 mph, so no disgruntled employee joyrides or scaring the hell out of passengers.

It’s a brilliant idea, one that a company called Zenith Motors is producing on a daily basis.

While at the 2014 Green Fleet Conference a couple of weeks ago, I had a chance to speak with Nate Shadoin, their Sales Manager.  He shared the fact that Zenith was started by a gentleman who owned hotels, and was tired of spending money on gas and maintenance for shuttles.

A man after my own heart.

He seized upon an idea, and now people are buying it.  Their tagline is “Save $100,000 over 300,000 miles”.  And they lay out their case on paper as well.  It makes so much sense.

I can understand a hybrid shuttle, clearly.  But electric is perfect, as it simply acknowledges the fact that in many cases, these vehicles travel a circuit.  Whether it’s on a campus, back and forth to an airport, or to a series of facilities.  You can usually set your watch as to when they arrive/depart.  The average daily mileage number is pretty close to the same.

This is a perfect scenario for and electric vehicle.  As well as Zenith.

How do they do it?  Are they in daily contact with Elon Musk?

No. They buy “gliders” from Ram and put Borg-Warner electric power trains in them.  FYI, a “glider” is a vehicle body without a motor and transmission.

These vans generate 180 hp, but more importantly go 90 miles on a 6.5 hour charge (according to Zenith).

Recently, my wife and I used an airport parking service that shuttled us to the airport.  It was a cold day, but the gasoline-powered van was hot.  Because they never turned it off, burning gas the whole time.  The airport was 3 miles away.  Heed the clues, do the math, see the savings.

 

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Sebastian James

sebastian@sebastianwjames.me

Accept no substitutes

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