Editor’s Note: Zap Jonway isn’t exactly the electric vehicle household name that Tesla is, but it’s rolling out 2–4 (depending on how you count) new electric vehicles this year (in China). Notably, they use lead-acid batteries. Say what?
Zap Jonway, an automobile manufacturer headquartered in Santa Rosa, California, has unveiled its latest lineup of 2013 electric vehicles, including two versions of a 5-star minivan, a 3-Door E380 SUV, and a 5-Door E-Falcon SUV.
The 5-star minivan EV comes in two versions, the EV-L, and the minivan-LA. The EV-L is powered by lithium-ion batteries, and the minivan-LA is powered by lead-acid batteries. The minivan-LA is only $12,000!
According to the press release, the EV-L provides 148 HP, has a top speed of 68 MPH (110 kph) under load, and has a range of 87 miles. The lead-acid minivan-LA has a top speed of 80 kph and a range of 50 miles (80 km).
I was surprised to see that it offers a lead-acid model. Lead-acid batteries were abandoned in new electric vehicles long ago. Weight is so important to electric vehicles that the lower price tag of lead-acid batteries is offset by the extra lead-acid battery capacity that has to be purchased to compensate for the poor range of lead-acid batteries.
The poor range is caused by their weight (which is four times that of average laptop and cellphone lithium-ion batteries) and their poor efficiency (which can be up to 40% percentage points below that of li-ion batteries).
To give credit where it is due, lead-acid batteries have the lowest initial prices by far, and the potential to last the longest with very light usage (low depth-of-discharge/DOD). They can last 15 years with light usage, but electric cars unfortunately need as much energy as batteries can provide, so light usage is not very feasible for them, unless your trips are very short.