Stanley Dennett with his newly-acquired ZENN electric car.
Stanley Dennett with his newly-acquired ZENN electric car.

The Zen of Buying a ZENN

What I learned when I bought a used neighborhood electric car.

By Stanley R. Dennett

I recently received an email from one of the members of the Electric Automobile Association of Florida, of which I am a member, requesting if anyone knew how he might advertise his used ZENN for sale.

I answered his email by asking a few questions about the ZENN he was trying to sell. You know the usual questions. What kind of shape is it in? How many miles does it have on it? What year is it? How much would he take for it? The answers I got back were enough to get me interested in it and I told him that I would be interested in purchasing it.

Since I was taking my wife for a weekend in St. Petersburg and he lived in Cape Coral I thought that it would be a good opportunity to look at it and decide whether it would be a good purchase or not.

Ever since the price of gasoline went over $2.00 a gallon I have been researching electric cars and conversions. I have accumulated all kinds of information but no practical experience. I knew that I wanted one to drive to work and around town but I hadn’t decided the best way to go about finding and purchasing or building my own.

This seemed the perfect opportunity for me to find out if electric was right for me. The price of the vehicle was right and if it didn’t upset my wife too badly I was going to purchase it and take it back home that weekend.

Well, that is what I did. I purchased the vehicle, rented a tow dolly and pulled it home to put in my garage. The trip back was uneventful except for the drivers that passed us on the interstate that could help but slow down and stare at the ZENN I was towing.

My problems didn’t start until I tried to get it registered and tagged. I had very little problem getting it insured by my insurance company. A few questions, clarification of a couple of points and a good description of the car and it they insured.

However, when I went to the tag agency to get the title transferred and get my tag we hit a snag. It seems that when it was originally registered the dealer did not have the correct paperwork and it was registered with a different VIN number than was actually on the vehicle. How it got tagged neither the clerk nor I could imagine. The former owner had it straightened out when he got the vehicle transferred to him, or so he thought but this turns out not to be the case. I had to bring the vehicle in so that the clerk could verify the VIN number by actually reading it off of the car.

The clerk called the original dealer and things started to get complicated. Seems the owner of the dealership and his wife were in Europe to watch their daughter in some sailing race and wouldn’t be back for a considerable amount of time. The title clerk of the dealership was unavailable at that time and the salesman that she was talking to didn’t have the paperwork available. She had to fax all of the paperwork she had to the dealership so that they could track down the original registration and then they would get back to her the next week. The most that I could get done was to get a temporary tag for my vehicle so that I could at least begin using it.

This would have been great but in the process of driving around and getting it ready to be tagged I noticed that it was not holding a charge as well as it might and that the distance I was able to go was not quite what was advertised on the ZENN website. It seems that the car still had the original batteries that had been installed when it was assembled in 2007. Now I had to purchase new batteries so that I won’t be stranded someplace without power. I went on the Internet to look up where to purchase replacement batteries and found out that they are no longer available. With a little research I found out where to purchase comparable batteries and that the company will even deliver them to my residence at no charge.

So, as of today, 16 July 2010 I am driving my ZENN to work (about 2 miles), to my doctor’s appointment (about 5 miles), and back home. As further developments occur I will keep you updated.

Am I happy with my purchase? Yes and no. It is great knowing that I am not polluting the environment and I get all kinds of attention in my ZENN but it is like any other used car purchase where something always needs to be done and you wind up spending more money than you had planned or wanted to and whenever paperwork is involved it can be very frustrating until it is all straightened out.

Times Article Viewed: 10348
Published: 20-Jul-2010


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