Test Ride of the ZEV Scooters
PJD has not correctly represented the conversation he had with me at ZEV in regard to the controller. Not any part of his statement is correct. In no way did I confirm his statement as he falsely asserts. The controller functions not as a power boost or a voltage limiter. It functions by controlling both the amps and the volts. In first gear the maximum amps is 70% of the maximum power setting, in 2nd gear it is 85%, in third gear it is the maximum. Each gear then further limits the voltage at the end of the programmed speed range. The effect is to maximize range. The controller cannot be bought from any Chinese supplier and is filled with made in America MOSFETS. We use the same controller up through 150 volts. Test mules for next gen bikes are running 18,000 watts of input power So it is a lot of overkill on the scooters. Never had a failure. Never had one shut off from heating or any other reason.
PJD also did not mention that his speed attempts were self limited to a 400-500 ft long section of the taxi way at the airport. He seemed to be a quite cautious rider and did not seem to like the curves at the end of the stretches and did not make any flat out runs that would have had him heeled over in in the curves under power. PJD informed me that his standard ride was some little bike about 2000 watts with a real short wheelbase. So I am sure the jump up was a learning curve. The comments of real ZEV owners speak for themselves about the top speed. I am 64 years old with bad vision and posted the listed speeds based on an aircaft GPS straped on the luggage rack down the same taxi way with the bike coming right off of the charger. I just do not quit at the 400 ft. marker.
The "twitchy throttle" comment is a first for me as we had never heard it before in 3 years of production. But that "touch" is programmable. If a rider wants a much softer start than is standard, it can be bult into the controller during production. But it kills a little of the acceleration edge. I came from a hyper sport bike background running Kawasaki liter bikes and even with turbos over 280 hp. So I tend to like stiff chassis, big brakes, hard acceleration. I can putt around on the 7100 at less than a walking speed without any problem.
We make our own chassis to my design. It cannot be bought in China or anywhere else. We do buy plastic that is used by others. But is a big assumption to think that that what is underneath is the same rake and trail, swing arm, chassis stiffness and or torsional rigidity, wall thickness, tubing OD, gussets, braces, junctions, boxing, etc. as on some other bike.
The motor on the 7100 is rated at 7100 due to the amps x volts X efficiency at the nominal point. The motor is the same as in the 8500 watt bike and has been tested at 8500 watts continous inside a heat box with the temps jacked up to 150 degree C. The 8500 watt bike goes into full production in about 60 days and the 10 kw motor moves into limited production. The 30 kw motor prototypes are in hand for the trike project. Its a big assumption to look at a motor and think you know what is inside of it. You will be wrong every time.
We raced the scooters at the KOLN International Motorcycle Show. Neither the motor or controller exceeded more than 10 degrees over ambient after 1 hour of practice or half hour of full throttle racing. As the real owner comment, they never get hot or even warm.
Bikes are rated at the nominal power rating of the battery. The 7100 bike pulls a maximum of 100 amps when away from a dead start. At full charge a battery pack will show 96-99 volts. So the true max power is about 8300 watts. We are about 5% more efficient than any other motor we have bench tested and more than that on others. Since the rated power is the continous power at the 150 C temp level. The extra range we get is due primarily to the 3 speed power saver controller and the efficiency of the motor and controller.
To those assuming that we are small or they are the big leagues, that is a big assumption based on nothing you can point to at all. In fact, nn our first year of USA production we delivered more bikes than Vectrix, Brammo, and ZERO combined delivered their first year. We were in the black in the first year and remain that way. Big investor money gives you nothing in this business except headaces. Lots of fancy offices, pressure to get on the market quick despite the product development stage, and that big investor money has to be repaid. So that jacks up the cost of operation and the customer pays an extra 10-20% more for the bike. Then you can go bankrupt like Vectrix.
In 3 years and on over 1000 bikes, Not one motor or controller has ever failed. On a per 100 bike basis, the squawk list was 2 turnsignal beeper cans, 1 speedo, 1 speedo drive, 1 lead battery cell failures, 2 battery connections came loose. The previous year saw 2 charger failures and nothing else.
The 100 mile range 7100 Trail just went on the web site at www.zelectricvehicle.com Nothing comes close at the price in speed or range or acceleration. It will be followed by the ST line with the 8500 watt bike shortly. I drive 26 miles one way to work with 21 miles on the Interstate.
Z Electric Vehicle
This is an...interesting thread.
I have something to contribute, in a...general way, and that is this:
Be VERY wary of manufacturer claims of unique parts that no one else has or can get. I assure you that there is some marketing...hyperbole going on. I have found some highly dubious claims that unless pressed, I will not elaborate on, but suffice it to say that there is some...marketing at play here :)
Some very specific points in this review seemed quite familiar to me and we have been dealing with them in our own way :)
I think this is the right place to tell about my experiences with the ZEV T8500 which I have in my possession since last spring.
I chose for the ZEV because of its simplicity ( and of course the price), the parts used are easier to replace in case something went wrong etc.
The first time I accelerated I was surprised as the throttle indeed seemd quite twitchy, but that was something I could get used to.
The next thing I noticed was that the speedometer indeed exaggerated a lot. I had my GPS with me to compare. That was something I already had expected and I had decided that not to be too much of an issue to me. I could buy for a little amount another speedometer ( with three magnets in the front disk) that was much more accurate ( TNT universal Carbon style speedometer)
I always ride with a duopassenger on the bike as we like to do things together my wife and I, but that seemd no problem for the ZEV whatsoever.
About the range we noticed that for example driving with a speed of 50 m/h reduces the range ( with two persons on the ZEV !) to give or take 60 miles.
About the charging, I noticed that it charges fast and the batteries are completely charged again after 4 hours of charging. Only thing is that the fan goes on making noice after that (V=99.7 I=0.0) even when I let it charge for another 24 hrs and now I wonder whether that's an issue or not)
I decided to take the ZEV with me (on a trailer) to the south of France this summer ( we live in the Netherlands) so that we could continue our test in more mountainous circumstances.
It appeared to have no problems while taking some hills, though I found out it couldn't do too much of regenerating while driving for a long distance downhill. Really braking with the engine it doesn't do.
Everything seemed to go well until I decided to take a tour to Montsegur. (of course it wasn't my intention to drive on the actual mountain but just to the parking space at the bottom of the mountain) The road to Montsegur is already going upward enough with several hairpin curves and just a kilometre or two before we would have reached our destination (that parking place) just after we had done such a hairpin something happened.
All of a sudden there was a strange rattling noise coming out of the controller and we could smell something was burning. We stopped immediately and when we tried to move on it didn't react to the throttle any more. We could only decide not to continue our trip and hope to be able to get back to our home for which we had to drive at least 30 kilometres back, luckily enough mostly downhill.
The first 10 km would be going down and we hoped that would be sufficient to cool the things that needed cooling.
All went well until we reached the point we had to try the engine again, it appeared to work again but with a terrible noise coming out of the controller.
We made it home but had to push the last 50 metres because they were going upward again and the motor didn't have the power any more to do that.
We couldn't drive the bike anymore and had to wait untill we had returned to our dealer in the Netherlands where they could look into the problem.
The dealer examined the ZEV and there had been indeed a problem with the controller. They replaced it for a newer type controller which mr. Zehrbach had sent to them and since then the ZEV seems even better then it had been before. This new type controller ( it also had totally new plugs) runs the bike much smoother than the previous had done – the throttle is not twitchy anymore – and it also seems to react much better on the electronic gear gadget.
So it appeares that there have been an evolution in the controllers of the ZEV, as I've read before that other owners of a ZEV had issues with the controller as well.
Since the replacement of that controller I already have been driving a lot of miles and found out that while driving in 'moped mode' ( 25 m/h) in first electronic gear the range of the ZEV with two persons on it is far more than 70 miles as the batteries still gave 88.2 V and the controller only starts shutting down as safety measure at 77 V.
The gauge on which it is possible to see the state of charge of the batteries is not completely satisfactory to my opinion. So I asked my dealer to install a Voltmetre so I have a better idea of the state of charge the are in during a trip.
The ZEV controllers are available with either the more gentle acceleration curve or the "twitchy' style setting. The customer gets to decide when purchasing. Problems with controller failure has been rather non existent since each bike gets tested for 3 days of driving before they ship. But the "problem" of the throttle response is a simple check box on the order.
Jean-Bob, love your 70 miles on 8 volts drop range. That works out to 185 miles on a full charge. Pretty wild.
There is a fairly easy fix for the twitchiness of the older ZEV scooters. I installed a TNC half-turn throttle in place of the OEM 1/4 turn unit, and that eliminated about 75% of the jerkiness at low speed. I was told then by Darus that there was no half-turn throttle with the necessary government approval to be OEM.
I'm still continuing my testride of the ZEV T8500. Yesterday I drove almost the same distance as I did in my previous post, 92,4 kms (57,41 mi) but instead of using the 'moped mode' ( 1st electronic gear, which has with 2 on the ZEV a top speed of 40 km/h or 24,85 mph) this time I used mainly the second electronic gear (out of three) which allows a top speed of 68 km/h ( 42,25 mph ). Again we drove with two on the ZEV. There was a strong headwind the first half of our tour.
7 kms (4,35 mi ) before we reached home again I got the warning that my batteries were running empty by only being able to drive in the 1st gear and about 3 km before we reached our destination it shut off while the Voltmeter read 77 V. I turned off contact, waited a while and saw the Volts rising again to 83 V. That allowed me to drive another km and the same happened again ( I only drove in 1st gear at that time). I did the same ritual, waited a few minutes and saw the Voltage rise again, this time to 81 V, and made it home. Very slowly driving. At home the Voltmeter read 79,5 V.
That's quite a difference with our previous experiences when we drove in that '1st gear' !!
At this moment I can only conclude that when one is desperate to drive large distances with the ZEV - which in my case doesn't happen all to often - it is wise to do that in 'moped mode' ( 1st gear) as one isn't gaining time by driving faster in 2nd of 3rd gear because then one has to stop halfway for charging for at least an hour to reach destination. One hour is equal to 40 kms (24,85 mi) driving in 1st gear.
That's my experience for now. I'm still eager to find out how far I will actually get on one charge with driving only in 1st gear but I don't think that will be this year. Probably next spring.
As for the new controller I have now on my ZEV, yesterday while making that tour, after 30 kms ( 18,64 mi ) when I had to throttle down at a traffic-light or an intersection it happened a few times that I couldn't accelerate anymore. It just didn't react anymore. I had to put off contact first and after I had turned it on again everything went back to normal. There was at that moment still 91 V in the batteries. That's the only issue that confuses me a bit.
Those crappy controllers really detract from what could be a good performing scooter powertrain. (It makes more sense to call the settings "speeds" than "gears", BTW, as they are only speed limiting settings.) The 1st setting on my ZEV wasn't really even usable for riding: the bike would reach 30MPH or so only for the first mile or so, then would repeatedly cut out and restart around 28MPH, which is not a useful speed in the USA. 2nd was the only usable speed (3rd increased the power drain while only adding a very few MPH to the top speed, and nothing to the acceleration), so I mainly used the bike with that setting. 2nd was good for 55MPH indicated with the replacement motor (about 50 actual), so since I avoided freeways anyway because of the short range of the bike, it worked fairly well. As for yours, 50 miles to Low Battery would be very unimpressive for a lithium-powered bike with one rider; it's hard to say with two riders and a wind...