Saturday, June 28, 2008

Blogger Discusses cityZenn obsoleting GM Volt

Nice blog entry comparing cityZenn and Eestor based vehicles to the GM Volt. Excerpt from the article:

Green technology companies have recently been enjoying a surge of investment dollars and Eestor’s customer Zenn Motor Co. is a great example. “Its shares have gained 81% over the past three months on the Toronto Venture Exchange despite the fact the company has yet to post a profit.”

Also note another new forum thread on the topic.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Ian Clifford on BNN

In this interview, Clifford mentioned that "our cars vehicles cost between 1 and 2 cents a mile to operate in the US." Now that's the type of math that makes sense to a neanderthal like me. My SUV that's getting 15mpg is costing me $4.24/gal or 28 cents per mile.  Putting it back into mpg, we're talking about 212-424mpg equivalent, correct???   This article from the Cedar Park, TX area seems to agree with my math somewhat.  It's a simplistic way of thinking about it and probably excludes important/signficant cost factors. If you need something a bit more thought out, read along here. 


CNN Article from Sept 20, 2006

Interesting to look at what was said about EEStor and Zenn Motor back in 2006 on CNN.  For those trying to guestimate the cost of a conversion kit, here's a little help, "an EEStor-powered engine with a range roughly equivalent to that of a gasoline-powered car woudl cost about $5,200."

Ian Clifford on Montel

Catching up on some YouTube content. Here's Ian Clifford on Montel. They were giving away one of his cars in a contest. 

Local News Station Story on Zenn

Found this on Youtube from January 07. Interesting line, "a full charge will only cost you about $1." Zenn Motor Stock Speculation

Decent article on Zenn & EEStor that includes some interesting quotes from stock analysts regarding the investment opportunity / risk of Zenn Motor.   It was also printed by   Here's an excerpt:

Rick Welty of investment advisory firm Welty Capital Management in LaFayette,
 Calif., recently discussed Zenn on Bloomberg TV. "The caveat is the upside-downside
 potential" for the company's stock, he said. "If it doesn't work, it probably goes to 
$1 a share. If it does work, it could be $15 or $20 or far higher."

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Another Ian Clifford Interview

Here's an interview with alot of the same content I was able to get from Ian Clifford.  Well done. 

Good EEstor Intro Article

I'm always amazed to find such well written, carefully thought out blog entries such as this one on EEstor, ultracaps, their relation to traditional batteries, etc. It's a good read for those interested in going a tiny bit deeper into the science of ultracaps.  

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Revenue from conversion kits?

I spoke to a reader about his napkin estimate of potential revenue Zenn Motor could receive if things went well with EESTor.  The conversation included some tips regarding what next to ask Ian Clifford when the opportunity arises.  Thanks!

EEStor's Richard Weir on John McCain's $300Mil Prize

(Phone Ringing)
RW: Dick Weir.

Blogger: Hey Dick, this is John McCain calling. How you doing? 

RW: How you doing John?  What can I do for you?

Blogger: I was wondering, should I make that check out to you or should I make it out to EEStor?....
RW: Better make it out to EEStor or they'll come and get me...

Blogger: Maybe Ian Clifford should get it?
RW: Ahhh, no, he doesnt need it. He's rich. 

Blogger: And also, what's my cut, Dick?
RW: A good healthy feeling about the United States.  

That's how my conversation this morning started with Richard Weir, CEO of EEStor. ( Note: recorded here verbatim, which hopefully will satisfy some critics who think my interviews dont include enough direct quotes. ) When we spoke, he was aware of McCain's call for a $300Mil prize for any company that can create a next generation car battery.  

Blogger: All kidding aside, what do you think of this John McCain announcement?

RW: He just gave us $300Mil dollars. If he pulls it off, we get the $30oMil. Whose going to compete with us?

Blogger: I dont know. Who is your closest competitor?

RW: A123 spent $32Mil in 5-6 yrs. The price went through the ceiling. They say they get better charging time. Be careful because that's 80%. Ours is 100% charge/discharge and very very rapid. So I mean, who is going to compete with us?

Blogger: I cant think of anyone. 

RW: So we get the $300Mil. 

I asked him whether maybe Zenn Motor should get the prize and Weir explained to me that they dont build anything. :-)  I asked Weir about his politics and he was careful to be neutral but he did reveal his leanings. He did think McCain's idea was very smart.  And then he went on to share some of his thoughts on the political landscape in the context of an energy crisis.  

I asked him for an update on the permitivity tests and pointed out that when we spoke a month ago, he said news was forthcoming.  He said, "We've made significant progress since the last time we talked. Very very happy about the way things are going in our company." 

I pressed him on his recommendation last time to research what Lockheed had released on his technology and pointed out that they appear more tight lipped than he does. He laughed and then said, "It's going to happen. We're certainly happy with our progress. And EEStor is well positioned for a fast finish this year. "

In a future post, I'll share some more details on the conversation including how to do business with EEStor today...for those who think they have an application. 

In the meantime, moving forward, I'm more than a little concerned about the level and quality of comments being posted on my blog.  What we all have in common is an interest in whether or not EEStor can deliver this amazing technology. We can disagree and even be cranky about each other's assessments of this. But I'd like to ask that everyone show a little more civility and class.  My blog is like my home. If I invite you in, act like a guest.  I'm going to hold off moving to a moderated comment format for now. My guess is there are always going to be a few people who go beyond polite skepticism and issue vulgarities to ruin the atmosphere. If it keeps up, I'll have to moderate the comments.  

Monday, June 23, 2008

From Pacemaker to Powerplant: Part 1 Interview of Ian Clifford

What do you get when you combine gadget lust with an energy crisis?  For Ian Clifford, CEO of Zenn Motor Company, the answer is quite simple: an opportunity to save the planet.  
Not save
 Toronto or Texas or any other part of the world but the whole shebang; everything and everybody.  You'll forgive Mr. Clifford if he occasionally uses that two word phrase--the planet---a bit too often.  It's just that, when you are about to enter phase 1 of a revolution that could end the use of fossil fuel powered cars, that phrase keeps popping up unexpectedly.  Then again, that's the sort of phrase we heard often back in the early Internet boom, of which, Mr. Clifford was  a successful participant, having sold an Internet marketing company at precisely the right time to stay optimistic about almost anything he touches for the rest of his life.  It's going to take nothing less than heroic optimism to pull off what Mr. Clifford is aiming to pull off.  What is he trying to pull off?

For starters, he wants to save each of the 13000 taxi cab drivers in New York City around $17,000 per year in fuel costs which amounts to over $1Bil over 5yrs which does not include the savings associated with no longer needing to change oil, filters or tune up internal combusion engines or even the lion share of savings gained via vehicle life expansion.  He wants to do this with a zero emission alternative based on technology gained from EEstor, the mysterious producers of a technology which may or may not receive 3rd party validation any day now.   For those who have followed news on Zenn Motor Company, you may be scratching your head now as you thought Zenn was focused on producing a tiny but fully electric  car. But how could Zenn get this car to every taxi cab driver in NYC?  Clifford and Zenn Motors is working on a set of ultracap conversion kits which will be available to retrofit the typical NYC cab platform of choice: the Crown Victoria and/or similar large vehicles.  The kit would eliminate the internal combusion engine and replace it with a ZENNergy drive system, a fully electric system based on ultracapacitor technology. 

With a little success under his belt, Clifford could spend a bit of effort on 100 or so other similarly sized fleets out there before moving on to something of more interest to the average consumer.  While Zenn's cityZenn car is targeted to possibly begin chipping away at the 40mil new  car market beginning in late 2009, you may find a bigger dent sooner among the 900 mil existing vehicles around "the planet" today.  Let's elaborate on this a bit.

Perhaps lately your decision to buy the largest SUV available with the worst gas mileage is seeming less funny to you. Picture this. One day you drive to a Jiffy lube or even your local dealer and instead of an oil change, you ask for engine removal. A few hours later, you pull away from the shop and notice your SUV is now quicker out of the gate than your wife's SAAB while reducing your vehicle power costs by what we'll call a motivating amount of money.  What happens next?  If all goes well, over 1Mil others follow your lead each year for the next few years producing what Ian Clifford would have investors believe is a motivating amount of money. 

What else would Ian Clifford have us believe? In the next installment, Clifford will test our faith with thoughts on who will be the new gas station, other applications of ultracap technology as well as where entrepreneurs should focus their attention for the most gain. 

Amazing Fuel Cost Savings

I tried out the Zenn Motor savings calculator on their website today. The calculator points out that my fuel costs for driving an SUV 70 miles per day is $5600/yr. If i were to switch to a fully electric Zenn and recharge via my local Virigina Power at $0.085 per KWH, my fuel costs would reduce by $5321. That is, with a Zenn my fuel costs would be $278/yr. I am paying 20 times more per year to drive an SUV than a Zenn. This is a staggering figure which could have such an enormous benefit in today's environment. It's not difficult to see what kind of demand this is going to generate if all goes well.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Distribution and Licensing

One of the questions I asked Richard Weir recently was if he could describe how EEStor intends to distribute it's technology. His reaction was quick and a little testy that this would not be a question he would answer or comment on. It's interesting to think about how today's alternative energy companies can more or less mirror some of the great software companies of the past. I wrote a quick article with a few thoughts on the topic on my other blog covering algae as a biofuel source. If you happen to be one of those who has invested in Zenn Motors and you are trying to figure out what value is that initial $2.5Mil stake they have in EEStor, you might want to think this through a bit.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Interview with Richard Weir, CEO of EEStor

Last week, I was able to interview Richard Weir, President and CEO of the secretive company from Cedar Park, TX called EEStor which is working on a technology to challenge the various industries that rely on battery power: cars, gadgets, etc utilising advances they claim to have made in the field of ultracapacitors also called ultracaps.

Here is installment 1 and installment 2. Installment 3.

NOTE: I was able to interview Ian Clifford last week for 30minutes. If you are an entrepreneur or investor, I think you're going to be very interested in what he had to say.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Going into production: Part 3 Interview with Richard Weir

Part of the reason that it's difficult to appreciate the magnitude of what EEStor is working on is because everyone tends to think of our current climate being one where we have an energy problem....full stop. High demand + low supply = high energy prices....high food costs, etc etc. But, what if to move forward, we have to set aside that problem definition and start over by recognizing what is extremely apparent to seemingly only a few: our problem isn't energy sources/supplies, but rather energy storage. Think about it for a minute. You could hop in your SUV and drive it from LA to NYC on one tank of gas if only your gas tank were the size of a bus. Very inefficient but very possible. Yet, none of us ever stops to think that what is swishing around in our tanks today was once 8000 miles away buried under 8 miles of sand. Isn't it the same though and is that really what we want powering us around our way?

Enter EEStor. Solar, wind, wave and all of the other ways of acquiring energy may now finally become viable alternatives due to the one thing so many were overlooking for so long: storage is the problem more so than supply. These ideas were introduced and made clearer for me by Ian Clifford in an interview I will post soon. For now, this isn't going to sink in right away so let's come back to this and pick up where we left off with installment 3 of my interview with Richard Weir, CEO and President of EEStor. (an installment that was delayed by nothing less than 3 days of storm induced power outage at my Washington, DC area home---inside the beltway no less--we really need these ultracapacitors, don't we? )

Proof. That's what everyone--skeptics, competitors, would be consumers-- is waiting for from EEStor. Weir says that they anticipate they'll be in production in early 2009 But, when you talk to him, you notice that despite what he is saying which is essentially "be patient, we will release information when it's the proper time to do so," he is anxious to tell you what's going on. He talks quickly and the words run together so that you're sometimes hearing concepts and not sentences all delivered with a measured giddiness that is clearly detectable. At the end of my interview, just as the tones of our voices were signifying that this interview is coming to an end real soon, I asked for one more question and Weir responded, "I already gave you a ton of information!" and then he chuckled a bit. I asked if I could contact him again if I had follow up questions and again laughing, emphatic "Nope!" but then as if not to offend he says, "thanks for the interest, we'll have some information out soon."

What he is referring to is the permitivity testing being performed by a third party lab. It literally could come out any day now. Success here means, among other things, that EEStor will receive additional investment from Ian Clifford at Zenn Motors. Weir is going to need it because his biggest competitor is Maxwell, a firm with offices in San Diego, CA, Switzerland and China. They would appear to already have a big lead on EEStor in terms of commercialization of IP but for Weir, the comparison is bothersome and his response was probably his only unmeasured statement. I asked him if Maxwell was his biggest competitor and he stated, "how can they be a competitor when their cost is $13,000 per kWH?"

"And you guys beat that pretty well," I asked. "We're under lithium ion which is around $350 to $850 depending on where you're buying it from. " You hear that Maxwell? I'm reaching out to you now for a rebuttal.

He ended the interview by saying, "We'll put out another news release here soon. And that will pretty well define the direction and successes we've had to date and what we're happy about."

What we're happy about as followers of this company is that someone is working on something revolutionary and as garnered enough interest to capture the imagination.