You might think you’re looking at a smart car from back in the 90s (albeit with a more snazzy paint job), but the Eli ZERO is the new kid on the block when it comes to electric vehicles. It falls into a segment popularly called ‘NEV’, or ‘Neighbourhood Electric Vehicle’ – and really indicates the direction urban commuting might be heading in the not-too-distant future.
Although many companies producing electric vehicles have been trying to work out how to extend the range on their cars, NEVs have kind of the opposite objective. Their function isn’t to take the place of conventional cars capable of driving several hundred kilometres on a single charge. Instead, they’re built for shorter commutes to nearby sites like the gym, work or a mall.
The Eli ZERO is the latest arrival on the NEV scene, boasting a top speed of only around 40km/h, which reinforces the idea that this isn’t a highway charger so much as a city-slicker navigating traffic for short distances.
It looks like a simple little package, but it actually comes with a lot of technologically up-to-date features, like an auto-locking function as well as auto-braking in order to lighten the task of driving as much as possible for the driver.
While it wouldn’t suit the sprawling road infrastructure in a country like South Africa, it will slot in very nicely in densely populated cities where space is at a premium and it doesn’t make financial sense to own a car. Cities like Tokyo, London, or New York are ideal playgrounds for the ZERO since people that live in the cities tend to travel very short distances and almost never require a large car.
It’s going to take more than a sleek paintjob and automatic braking to get Americans to give up their massive trucks, but for some urban inhabitants, something like the ZERO is all they’ll ever need.