Zetta CM1: A tidbit

The Zetta City Module 1 (CM1) is the first Russian built EV to enter production, according to Automotive Logistics. Unfortunately, detailed information is difficult to access. Even the English version of the Zetta company site fails to mention the CM1, devoting its content to technological issues of its drive train, especially the in-wheel = in-hub induction motors. However, some information is available from Russian Auto News.

The modular approach used by Zetta means that different modules can be built for different purposes, goods as well as person transport. Some of these will be mass produced focussing on common needs. This is the case of the CM1. Others may have more limited appeal, such as outfitting a vehicle to accommodate a person with disabilities, who has very specific and individual needs. Yet flexibility is not the only attribute. The Zetta is also technologically efficient, economic and – to repeat that so-often misused term – ecological.

The in-hub drive train is exceedingly important for Zetta. Zetta CEO Denis Schurovsky says “Summer and winter validation has shown us that induction motors can endure road dynamic stresses. They are resistant to chemicals, dust, water, etc. All wheels are connected to a single management system that simulates electric ABS and ESP with high recuperation capability.” Each in-hub motor is rated at 20 kW, for a total of 80 kW, a respectable power for such a small vehicle.

The CM1 has a length of 3 030 mm on a 2 000 mm wheelbase, and with a width of 1 270 mm and height of 1 600 mm. It is configured as a four-seater. Inside EVs makes a point that the car is just 340 mm longer than a Smart Fortwo, and that the seating must only be for children in the back. This misses the point entirely that an EV with in-hub electric motors will use space much more efficiently than an ICE (internal combustion engine) designed vehicle. Top speed is 120km/h and battery capacity ranges between 10kWh and 32kWh, for a range of between 200 and 560 km. Depending on the battery pack selected, the weight of the vehicle should be between 500 and 700 kg.

About 90% of the vehicle content is Russian. Much of the remainder is in the batteries, imported from China. The vehicle has been in development since 2017.

At a price of €5 300, Zetta CM1 claims to be the cheapest EV in the world. The vehicle has been developed by Russian Engineering and Manufacturing Company (REMC) in Toliatti/ Togliatti, the Russian city named after Italian Communist Party Leader Palmiro Togliatti (1893 – 1964). Estimated production is 15 000 vehicles a year.

And so to the question many readers will be asking, would I buy one? I would like to answer yes, especially after a theoretical regret at prioritizing a Japanese Subaru Justy four wheel drive in 1986, instead of the cheaper Russian Lada station wagon (VAZ-2104) or its similarly priced, but considerably larger and more powerful 4×4 off-roader, the Lada Niva (VAZ-2121). Andy Thompson in Cars of the Soviet Union (2008), states that Lada “gained a reputation as a maker of solid, unpretentious and reliable cars for motorists who wanted to drive on a budget.” It is my hope that the Zetta will offer purchasers a similar, positive experience. Unfortunately, the answer will probably be no, and I will be unable to engage in the one-upmanship that comes from owning a €5 300 EV, capable of doing the same basic driving tasks as a €53 000 (or more) Rivian R1S or Tesla Model Y.

2 Replies to “Zetta CM1: A tidbit”

  1. Hi Brock. Thanks for your latest overview of another earth friendly technology. One small suggestion, in your article perhaps you could spell out the non-metaphysical meaning of ESP – I had to look that one up.
    As an operator of self maintained relatively fuel efficient stick shifts, that tend to be kept until repairs are no longer viable or have become too onerous, I suspect that it will be a long wait before we can look forward to our first EV or hybrid. However, I’m pleased to hear of this affordable Russian option but it remains to be seen if it can have a lasting North American presence. Here in Canada, Ladas and Skodas, known for there up-front affordability came along then went away due to reliability concerns.
    As a youth (the late 60’s) I recall the contempt many of us had for Skodas although I knew one kiwi family where the dad became quite adept at repairing them. Following suit, I too became adept at roadside and at home repairs of the various affordable old cars that came my way. In those days there was always a comprehensive tool kit in the back along with a a fan belt.
    Now that Mercedes has announced that Smart Fortwos are being discontinued in Canada I don’t think there any compact EVs comparable to the Zetta here but our federal government is now offering incentives to buy select hybrid electric (-$2,500) and EV models ($-5,000). Some provinces will add on to this with Quebec being the most generous (-$8,000).
    To distribute the rebate budget across a larger number of vehicles they are only available for those with a base price less than $45,000. However, according to this website: https://www.plugndrive.ca/electric-cars-available-in-canada/ several luxury EVs also qualify for rebates.
    For now, the only EV that I have ever had the pleasure of driving was a go-cart built by a clever nephew. It was quite a thrill to speed around his neighbourhood propelled by 4 x 500 Watt motors. Owing to brake failure at the time, this vehicle had to be stopped facing up hill.

    1. Thanks for your comment, John. With respect to ESP, here is what Wikipedia has to say, “Electronic stability control (ESC), also referred to as electronic stability program (ESP) or dynamic stability control (DSC), is a computerized technology that improves a vehicle’s stability by detecting and reducing loss of traction.”
      With that out of the way, I would like to mention reliability issues. Any vehicle can be a Monday car and end up with issues. After purchasing two used cars (a well functioning Hyundai Matrix, and a not so well functioning Citroën Evasion) we decided to purchase a new car once again, and buy a diesel powered Mazda 5, purchased new in October 2012. The reliability of such a car is dependent on its weakest link. In August 2013 at 12 020 km, the vehicle stopped about 100 km outside of Bergen, because of the failure of an injector. The car had to be towed back to Bergen (on a Saturday afternoon) and it was not repaired until Thursday afternoon, because the Mazda dealer had to get parts from the Netherlands. An injector also failed a second time, at my workplace (Leksvik) about 45 km from home. Again, it took several days to get the vehicle fixed. This has poisoned my relationship with internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles.
      Yes, the Lada (and other Eastern block vehicles, including the Skoda) had reliability issues, so that people who owned one had to be their own mechanics. Since I lack this competence, I have only had a theoretical regret about not owning one, and none of the real world anguish/ grief that I would have experienced as an owner.
      I am not a believer in any form of ICE vehicles, including hybrids, and regard subsidies for these as immoral. Despite this, I will continue my own immoral behaviour by driving one, the Mazda 5, until it is replaced by an EV (electric vehicle) probably sometime after 2022.

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