Zhong Tai, the 250 mile electric SUV

Zhong Tai

I read during the week about the Zhong Tai, a 4 seater car based on the body of the 2006 Daihatsu Terios with a claimed range of 250 miles and thought, “this is a car that would suit my family”.

The Sunday Times has the full scoop as they’re the first western publication to put this Chinese car to the test. They were impressed!

New Power, by contrast, claims to have developed an electric four-seater with a range of 250 miles and plans to bring it to the UK “within the next couple of years”. Known as the Zhong Tai (the name translates roughly as “peace and safety for the people”), it has lithium-ion batteries that can be recharged in 6-8 hours from a conventional socket, or in two hours from a high-power recharging point. With a top speed of 75mph and an estimated price tag of between £16,300 and £20,500 in Britain, the Zhong Tai could be both practical and affordable enough to make drivers part with their internal combustion engines for good.

I wonder what the resale value on electric cars will be like? It’s well known that batteries degrade with time so that component will bring down the price. Then there’s the strides technology is making in this field. Will people want the latest whizz bang gadget?
Hopefully advancements in battery technology will be backwards compatible. An electric motor is an electric motor (I guess), but battery tech is getting so much better all the time.

Is anyone driving an electric car in Ireland?

14 thoughts on “Zhong Tai, the 250 mile electric SUV

  1. The only one I’ve seen is the G-Wiz with the Green Party markings, it’s often parked around Booterstown. IMHO these would totally make sense for folks commuting to and from Dublin, especially if the deal was sweetened by e.g. letting them use bus lanes.

  2. (this will be a long comment, apologies Donncha – electric cars are something very close to my heart)

    I’d love to drive an EV in Ireland.

    There’s the G-Whizz in Dublin, which I’ve never liked too much. I love the people working at GreenAer, they’re fantastic, intelligent people who are helping make a difference. However the pain of getting that to Cork along with the safety (its low-speed and classified as a quadricycle so it doesn’t pass car crash tests) means its not worth the money and effort.

    I was talking to Mitsubishi who will be selling their iMiEV 5-seater EV with 160km range in Ireland, UK and Japan in late-2010 and 2011 – that’s another car to watch, especially if you live in Cork city there is no need for an engine.

    The problem however with driving an EV in Ireland is that while our government are all very pro-electric – they’re offering no incentives. These would usually appear in the form of free parking w/chargers, free access through toll-roads, bus-lane driving etc – small things that do add up in the long run. Unless that changes, electric vehicle companies aren’t going to bother (and this is from conversations with manufacturers) putting the money into getting their cars on the road here.

    So yeah. EV’s are a constant source of aggravation for myself, I would love to see more on the roads here but unless either government or a private company willing to put a LOT (and I don’t think there’s many car companies willing to put a lot of money into anything these days) into getting their product to the masses then they’ll probably remain a constant source of aggravation – until the Zhong Tai ships or I build my own 🙂

    1. I love long comments, especially from those know a bit about what they’re talking about!

      G-whiz is definitely out. I need a family car for obvious reasons, and I remember the roasting Jeremy Clarkson gave it. The picture in the Sunday Times had bullet holes photoshopped on it!

      Let’s hope the Chinese have the money to bring their car to Europe. If they do, the UK Gov might be more proactive about support green vehicles, and you know how the Dail is, they’ll follow along and copy what’s done across the Irish Sea.

  3. Screw electric cars, my money is on the hydrogen cars.


    I mean the electric car, that means if I am doing a road trip from Washington State to California, I have to stop 1/2 through Oregon and recharge for 6 hours? With hydrogen I stop at my trusty “gas” station and fill up in less than 5 mins.

    They did a feature on hydrogen cars on Top Gear, check it out!

    1. I saw that Top Gear too and was impressed. Like Enda I’d be all for Hydrogen except for the lack of infrastructure and because it’s expensive to produce.

      Jeremy brings up the fact that the Prius battery is made from components made or mined all over the world. He pointed to Canada for the nickel, but apparently they don’t use that mine any more. Use Google, it’s documented.
      I had a post ready to publish on this a year or two ago but it’s still in my drafts folder. I did find the mine on Google Maps. Scary how scarred the landscape there is.

  4. Yeah, except that car they showed on Top Gear cost about a million dollars to build and you can *rent* it for 660USD a month on a 3-year lease in certain parts of Southern California because that’s where the stations are.

    Hydrogen is great in theory, if the infrastructure were there then I would fully support H2O cars. Its been promised to us since the start of the Bush era and we’re no further. The infrastructure for battery-electrics is here already, its a power cord and a driveway.

    Battery-electrics are going to improve, faster-charging times and organizations like Better Place specializing in battery swapping.

    Also, what’s the need for road tripping? I know I would never drive from Dublin to Cork, I’d prefer to take the train.

    1. Yeah but in the US people don’t take the train much. Everybody drives and road trips are part of the US culture. The US is the market you need to win in order for a green car to work

  5. One of the things that I always wonder about when electric cars are mentioned is what do we do with all the batteries that have degraded to the point whereby they are essentially useless? Lithium batteries really only have a useful lifespan of a couple of years, so do we end up with landfills full of discarded batteries?

    1. You can recycle the materials from batteries to make new batteries e.g. Lithium is an element, it never degrades. The “6 hours to charge” objection is answered fairly easily: standardised quick-swap battery packs, and service stations for them. Pull in, swipe a card, a robotic arm pushes the dead pack out and a fresh one in: gone in 60 seconds. This is already being looked at e.g. the Better Place project: http://www.wired.com/autopia/2009/05/better-place/

      The other objection that Donncha brought up is long distance travel. I honestly don’t see a future for a single vehicle culture, where the same car takes you on the school run as well as across the country. I envisage a 2-tier system, with limited range electric cars for strictly suburban use, These would be bigger than the G-Wiz, of course, but light, with limited range and barred from motorways much as Mopeds are. Yes, they would not be as safe as SUVs, which means that they would be speed-restricted, and you’d need to keep big trucks away from the roads they use. For long distance travel, it would be necessary to rent a suitable car, or take public transport and rent at the other end. Note that I’m talking (sub)urban use only, not taking away the Range Rovers from people who live out in the sticks and need them. There won’t be a “one size fits all” solution, more “horses for courses”, and you have to start somewhere. 8)

    1. Didn’t Clarkson review the Tesla for the Sunday Times and Top Gear? I think it broke down several times and ran out of fuel after about 50 miles.. 🙂

      1. He faked the battery emptying thing. Had to come out and say it afterwards and set electric cars back about 10 years with all the negativity received after that review 😛

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