Sunday, May 18, 2008

Will Manitobans be next in Canada to drive the ZENN?

I will always be a prairie girl at heart no matter where I live so it is with great satisfaction that I can tell you the Government of Manitoba introduced Bill 15: The Climate Change and Emissions Reductions Act on April 11 that if passed will allow the sale and driving of LSVs (Low Speed Vehicles, though I prefer the term Neighbourhood Electric Vehicles) on public roads in Manitoba. If you are looking for the reference in the bill, scroll down to near the bottom to "Related and Consequential Amendments".

(Update: Bill 15 was passed into law by the Manitoba Legislature. Read the June 12 News Release.)

B.C. already has legislation in place that allows Low Speed Vehicles (a.k.a. Neighbourhood Electric Vehicles) on the road, see the side bar in this article on If you live in B.C. and want to buy a LSV checkout Lang Motors.

Check out this link to see some of the comments on Manitoba's new bill. CBC article: Manitoba Bill Targets Kyoto Commitment

The only problem with this article is that it misleads people into thinking that the ZENN can only go 40km/hr when in fact this is a regulated speed and it can go faster. Montana and Washington both have state laws that allow the ZENN and other LSVs to travel at 35mph (~56km/hr) so people in these states can modify their cars to travel faster. These two states also allow LSVs on roads with a speed limit of 45mph (~72km/hr). The Green Car Congress has recently reported that in the U.S. there is a group led by a California automobile dealership that sells the ZENN that has just launched a campaign to get the Federal government to create a new vehicle classification for Medium Speed Electric Vehicles (MSEV).

I have spoken to a few old friends in Winnipeg about their thoughts on the ZENN. They hadn't heard of it before and their first instinct was to be afraid that it would hold up traffic or maybe even cause accidents because of its slow speed. But they said that they would be willing to look into it and give it a chance in the market even if they wouldn't buy one right away. It's true that Winnipeg traffic is a little faster than downtown Toronto traffic that averages 20km/hr-40km/hr, but the reality is that a ZENN could easily drive in the right lane and be easily passed. I've read comments on other web pages by people thinking a car would have to slam on their brakes or "swerve" around a LSV and this just isn't realistic. 40km/hr isn't that slow. Try taking a turn down a side street at 40km/hr! Actually don't, I wouldn't want to get sued for encouraging reckless driving. For a sense of how these cars do in city traffic check out the links in the side bar featuring test drives in Montreal, New York, Minneapolis and Great Falls, Montana.

On a sad note, this blog entry is dedicated to award winning electric car manufacturer Dynasty formerly of B.C. that had to give up the battle and was sold to a Pakistani company "which will move production to Karachi and export to the United States from there." (Economist May 1,2008)

Lets not allow our government to kill any more budding innovative green Canadian companies. Small companies, especially ones with so much potential need to be able to sell some product, get customer feed back and raise some capital funds.

A May 1 article in the Economist "Not On Our Roads" explains why we really need to keep encouraging our federal and provincial representatives and bureaucrats to support this technology and this Canadian business in particular. In the meantime I'll be watching as Bill 15 plods its way through the Manitoba Legislature and I hope into law sometime soon.


Anonymous said...

How easy is it to modify the Zenn to travel faster?

kristin said...

It is supposed to be just a software fix. Somebody on the I Want A ZENN! discussion forum said they ordered the software, loaded onto their computer, plugged the ZENN into their computer and ran the software. So there you go. Said it cost them $62. You can check out the forum if you want more details.

Rhonda said...

can you drive the Zenn in Ontario?

kristin said...

Sadly, the general public still cannot drive the ZENN in Ontario. Only some lucky staff at certain provincial parks who are participating in a LSV pilot project can drive them.

For more details check out my next post: "ZENN Running the Bureaucratic Gauntlet in Ontario". As of today this entry is still reflective of the situation. The only other move that Ontario has made this summer is to commission an independent safety study of these vehicles.

However, not just individuals have been writing to the provincial government asking that they be allowed. The city of Kingston has passed a motion encouraging the Ontario government to approve their use.