Zenith Motors, a recently formed company, is offering an electric-drive van, with shuttle-bus versions now in production and cargo vans available.
The Zenith electric van uses a Ram ProMaster body with a Borg-Warner electric drivetrain, including a 180-hp motor and a 62.5-kilowatt-hour bank of lithium-ion phosphate batteries.
Labeled the Zenith 350 for its 3,500-pound payload capacity, the van offers a volumetric capacity is 530 cubic feet, an operating range is 70 to 85 miles, depending on weight carried, and a top speed of 60 mph. Regenerative braking reduces service-brake wear and helps keep the batteries charged. When fully depleted, the batteries take 6.5 hours to recharge using a 220/240-volt, 40-ampere circuit.
The Zenith 350, with $89,500 after being offset by a federal tax credit of $5,500 and local grants and credits, retains the ProMaster’s front-wheel-drive layout and low floor height for good traction and easy loading and unloading. The company obtains completely finished vans from Chrysler, removes their powertrains and installs the electric apparatus. It’s done this way for simplicity of production by Chrysler and ease of movement during shipping and handling in Zenith’s plant, at Wilder, Ky.