Automotive

First Eli Zero Neighborhood Electric Vehicles go into production

First Eli Zero Neighborhood El...
Eli's manufacturing partners in Europe have started the first production run of the Zero NEV
Eli's manufacturing partners in Europe have started the first production run of the Zero NEV
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Eli's manufacturing partners in Europe have started the first production run of the Zero NEV
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Eli's manufacturing partners in Europe have started the first production run of the Zero NEV
The Zero NEV is limited to a top speed of 25 mph
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The Zero NEV is limited to a top speed of 25 mph
The no-frills interior includes a 7-inch digital dash that's able to show images from the rear camera for parking assist, and most configurations come with hot/cold AC
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The no-frills interior includes a 7-inch digital dash that's able to show images from the rear camera for parking assist, and most configurations come with hot/cold AC
The Zero NEV's two occupants are fully protected from inclement weather
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The Zero NEV's two occupants are fully protected from inclement weather
The Zero NEV was designed to be street legal in Europe, and can be seen here on location in Italy
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The Zero NEV was designed to be street legal in Europe, and can be seen here on location in Italy
Two battery configurations are available, for a per-charge range of either 50 or 70 miles
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Two battery configurations are available, for a per-charge range of either 50 or 70 miles
The Eli Zero offers 160 liters of trunk space behind the fabric or vegan leather seating for two
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The Eli Zero offers 160 liters of trunk space behind the fabric or vegan leather seating for two
The Zero NEV measures 88.6 x 54.3 x 62.5 inches, and has a turning circle of 23.6 feet
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The Zero NEV measures 88.6 x 54.3 x 62.5 inches, and has a turning circle of 23.6 feet
The Zero NEV comes with a rear camera and a parking sensor to help reverse into tight spots
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The Zero NEV comes with a rear camera and a parking sensor to help reverse into tight spots
The 160 liters of trunk space should be enough for the odd shopping trip or picnic
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The 160 liters of trunk space should be enough for the odd shopping trip or picnic
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Back in 2018, Los Angeles-based startup Eli Electric Vehicles announced an electric microcar called the Zero for relatively short, low-speed jaunts around town. Now the Neighborhood Electric Vehicle has entered an initial production run.

In the electric mobility mix, there are some drivers who don't necessarily need big or fast or long-haul vehicles for their daily jaunt through small towns and big cities. And this is the market where microcars will shine – able to quietly zip down narrow streets while keeping occupants dry, squeeze into parking spots too tight for bigger vehicles, turn on a dime (well, not quite), and be relatively cheap to run.

One of the first small electric runabouts to burst onto the e-mobility scene was of course Renault's supremely fun Twizy, but we've seen others pop up over the years – most recently the adorable Microlino that's due to roll out next year and the shape-shifting City Transformer coming in 2024. Now Eli Electric Vehicles has started a small production run of its Neighborhood Electric Vehicle (NEV), the Zero.

A NEV is a category of relatively low-speed compact four-wheelers designed for trundling down inner city streets or urban neighborhoods up to a top speed of 25 mph (40 km/h), though Eli says that they can legally be driven on most roads where a 35-mph limit is in force.

The Zero NEV is limited to a top speed of 25 mph
The Zero NEV is limited to a top speed of 25 mph

In order to get the Zero ready for its launch in the EU marketplace, the 2018 prototype has undergone a number of tweaks. Production-ready updates include an upgrade to a 72-V system architecture (originally 48 V), power steering, power braking, reversing camera, a dual-beam LED headlight, and a redesigned chassis.

Though it certainly has the look of a Twizy family member, the two occupants sit side-by-side and are fully protected from inclement weather. The 4-kW rear-drive motor gets up to that restricted NEV top speed of 25 mph, and there's the option of a 5.8-kWh or 8-kWh battery for 50 or 70 miles (80/112 km) of per-charge range, respectively, with regen braking potentially helping to eke out a little more.

The 88.6 x 54.3 x 62.5-in (225 x 138 x 158-cm) Zero is built on an aluminum chassis with McPherson suspension to the front, has disc braking front and back, and boasts a 23.6-ft (7 m) turning circle. The electric microcar has a tilting sunroof to let some fresh air in during hot days, a rear camera and parking sensor should help drivers slot into where they need to be, and there's a low-speed sound system to alert pedestrians to the vehicle's presence when crawling along. Power-assisted braking and power steering are available on two out of the three configurations on offer.

The no-frills interior includes a 7-inch digital dash that's able to show images from the rear camera for parking assist, and most configurations come with hot/cold AC
The no-frills interior includes a 7-inch digital dash that's able to show images from the rear camera for parking assist, and most configurations come with hot/cold AC

Inside you'll find seating for two in either fabric or vegan leather, a 7-inch digital dash, USB charging ports and a 12-V power socket, two configurations get hot/cold AC, and there's 160 liters of trunk space.

The vehicle was designed to be street legal in Europe, was homologated in late 2020, and moved to production-ready status earlier this year. Now an initial batch of Zero NEVs has entered production, with shipments to the first European distributors expected to take place in the coming weeks. The company then plans to launch in the US in the near future.

This week Eli also announced the launch of its second equity crowdfunding campaign on StartEngine, the first one closing on July 30 with nearly US$1.4 million raised from over 1,500 investors. Funds from this second round will go towards production costs, ramping up distribution and meeting operational expenses.

Source: Eli Electric Vehicles

View gallery - 10 images
5 comments
5 comments
BartyLobethal
This may be OK in dense inner-urban European and Asian cities. For an Australian market it would need to be capable of 100km/hr, have a 200km range and be priced no higher than a small 4-cylinder ICE. And so, we wait.
Michael son of Lester
In its current form, I'm not so sure how well the public will receive these EVs. I think there's a lot of promise in these tiny EVs, but several things need to be improved.

The charging infrastructure in small European cities needs to be improved. And, there's a need to boost the speed to match at least the lowest speed limit. Do these things, and the Eli Zero EVs may have a chance on the streets of Europe.
nick101
This is the kind of vehicle that would serve a LOT of peoples needs. If regulations permitted, they could replace millions of cars with them. But, most people would only accept them as low-cost transportation, that means with a small price tag! I wouldn't be surprised if these cost more than a much-more-capable small car, even without 'vegan leather' also, it boggles the mind as to why something this small and light would need power steering and brakes.
Mike_S
@Michael son of Lester The small EV would be beneficial. Why do I need to haul 1200kgs of mass when requirement is me and my packed lunch at working place? OK, I can agree for wheels, roof, airbags etc, but what about 300kg? I remember when Skoda CityGo EV's appeared on the matket. It went extremaly popular and WV stopped production in battery shortage threat (I am not sure here, but media speculated this) My question was: WHY?? For commuting distance of 10miles in city it is an absolute winner. So, any of these small electric commuter appears I am going to buy. Yes, speed capablity shall be up to minimum of 90 - 100km/hr. Charging? Well - if I can charge it from standard home socket in ~4hr, I can do it. Maybe at work, too. Worse for densely packed streets of Rome, London etc, indeed.
martinwinlow
@ BartyLobethal - Nonsense. The average Australian vehicle does 36.4km per day (https://www.budgetdirect.com.au/car-insurance/research/average-kilometers-driven.html). Given that a significant proportion of those are rural vehicles, the average daily mileage for urban-based vehicles will be even less. *you* may need a vehicle that can do 200km but the reality is that most do not. I would concede that 25mph is a bit slow but 40mph would almost certainly be within the capability of this vehicle and it only a regulatory issue that gets in the way of that.

As far as whether it will be successful or not, nick101 is right. This thing would need to cost less than AU$10k to stand any chance. In China, maybe, but not pretty much anywhere in the West.