Korean Company Gears Up City EV Production
By Bill Moore
CT&T is doing something right. In just over 12-months time the since the launch of its C-Zone electric golf car, it has captured 35 percent of the domestic market in its native Korea, according to James Park, with whom I spoke during a "From-the-Exhibit-Floor" interview at the annual Electric Drive Transportation Conference in Vancouver, British Columbia last month.
Founded just three years ago by a former board member of Hyundai, the company made its first appearance at the electric-drive industry conference, debuting not one, but three different classes of EVs: the C-Zone five-passenger golf car, the two-passenger F-Zone LSV (low-speed vehicle) and the E-Zone, city-class electric car, though only in the form of booth photos.
Mister Park, who is a Canadian resident representing the North American interests of the firm, stressed that the C-Zone was designed with a more car-like ride in mind by incorporating full independent suspension.
"You feel like you’re in a car rather than a golf cart," he stated. "We’re focusing in on… higher-end quality". He explained that they are being used increasingly in resorts, large factories, airports, and universities; and that the company is enjoying "great growth" as customers upgrade from their traditional golf carts to the C-Zone.
He made an interesting observation as to why the C-Zone seats five instead of four. The fifth seat is for the driver, who typically also serves as the caddy, leaving the remaining seats for the traditional golf "foursome."
As the marketing point man for the company, Park is concentrating initially on Florida as not only the launch point for North American sales, but also as its gateway into Central and South America through the city of Miami.
Starting in March of 2006, CT&T will commence production of the F-Zone low-speed electric vehicle. Seating two and powered solely by batteries, it will have a top speed of 40 kph (24.85 mph) and a range of 100 kilometers (62 miles) using lead-acid batteries. The company also plans to offer a nickel metal hydride (NiMH) battery option.
Then early in 2007, CT&T plans to introduce the E-Zone, which is a city-class EV, which will have a top speed of between 80 and 90 kilometers per hour (49-55 mph).
The E-Zone will also be a two-passenger only vehicle.
"We are only focusing on two-passengers," Park explained. "We’re looking for a niche market. Let the big boys play with four people; we want to focus on two-seaters.
"We do already have several different models planned for production coming up in 2007 and 2008. We’re a company with a vision to grow," he stated, noting that CT&T plans to emulate the thirty-five year track record of Hyundai Motors.
The company has established its distribution, sales and service network in Korea for the F-Zone neighborhood electric vehicle in preparation for commencement of production in two months time.
Plans for export to North America hinge on meeting U.S. standards, including having the charger UL approved. Park hopes this will only take a few more months than originally anticipated.
Mr. Lee, the president of the company explained that the chassis of the E-Zone is essentially the same as the C-Zone with exception that where the C-Zone is a rear wheel drive vehicle, the E-Zone is front wheel-drive. It’s car-like body panels are made of dent-resistant plastic.
Park noted that Korea is a country that is only 500 kilometers in length, yet is home to 47 million people. This results in a great deal of traffic congestion and slow speeds in urban areas where a 40kph electric vehicle would be of a distinct advantage, especially since gasoline is so expensive.
He acknowledged that it’s a new concept in Korea where people are used to big, gasoline-powered vehicles. He sees the E-Zone as a second family vehicle for taking kids to school or commuting to work or going shopping.
"Everything is readily available because with 47 million people in a small area, every district has everything that you need."
CT&T will price the F-Zone LSV at between $9-9,500.
"We like to sell it at a lower margin, but at a higher volume."
Park also explained that South Korea generates 50 percent of its electrical power from hydroelectric dams and 50 percent from nuclear power, meaning it generates virtually no carbon dioxide from its power sector.
The highway-capable E-Zone is currently undergoing testing and Park believes that it will debut officially as a production vehicle in late 2006. It will be sold through the same network of dealerships as the F-Zone.
He stressed to EV World that CT&T has a rich pool of automotive expertise and high-quality parts manufacturers to draw from within the Korean automobile industry, which includes Hyundai, Daewoo and Kia.
"We are blessed that way, where we can be very competitive because our ancestors or our fathers have built that country for car manufacture. So, we’re enjoying, we’re benefiting from what they have done [for the last] 35-years now.
Park estimated that the E-Zone city car will run about $1,500 more than the F-Zone neighborhood electric vehicle. He said that a NiMH upgrade option would also be available in the E-Zone but he didn’t yet have a price for that.
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