Eli Zero is a NEV with a top speed of 25 mph designed for roads 35 mph or less.
Eli Zero is a NEV with a top speed of 25 mph designed for roads 35 mph or less.

Bringing the Eli ZERO to America

By Bill Moore

It may look like Renault's Twizy electric vehicle, sold mainly in Europe, but the Eli Zero offers side-by-side seating and a more year-round cabin.

Eli Electric Vehicle founder Marcus Li isn't actually an automotive engineer or designer, for that matter. He's trained in architecture and urban design, which gives him a different perspective on personal mobility in the city, especially after spending a part of his young career in the "Big Apple," New York City, as well as in Beijing. That experience led him to design a different kind of automobile, one more suited to high urban density and crowded streets.

The Eli ZERO is the result of those insights: small, nimble, electric. Technically, it's a Neighborhood Electric Vehicle, or NEV under US federal law. Besides having a minimum array of safety features - lights, turn signals, windshield wipers, seat belts - its top speed is limited to 25 mph (40 km/h) and is only permitted to operate on roads with posted speed limits of 35 mph (56 km/h), though laws vary state-by-state.

The vehicle, which is currently seeking crowdfunding on Indegogo, is truly an international design and engineering effort pulling together a talent team from around the globe with its main office in Beijing, China, from where EV World interviewed its CEO. To be available in two range models (55 mi and 85 mi.), each will be priced respectively at $9,900US and $11,900US. Special early supporter pricing on Indegogo is $7,700 until the end of May. The goal is to begin deliveries in December 2018, with the initial market being the United States.

Also on the call is Shaina Denny, Eli's head of marketing who explained that, like Tesla, sales initially will be 'direct-to-consumers' who will order their vehicles online. Servicing will be done through a contracted provider, she added. Sales will not be limited to just "EV-friendly" sections of the country.

Obviously, one of the key reasons for building a NEV instead of a more highway-capable vehicle is lower crash safety standards. As a startup, Eli doesn't have to go through the very costly crash tests a high-speed automobile is required to undergo. Presumably, as the company grows, it can devote resources to extending the capabilities of future vehicles into higher speed regimes.

You can listen to the entire interview using the embedded MP3 player below or download for playback on your favorite mobile device.

Times Article Viewed: 11333
Originally published: 02 Apr 2018


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