The Eli Zero Is A Cheap U.S. EV That Can’t Go More Than 25 MPH


Image: Eli

I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but buying a car these days is damn expensive. With average new car transaction prices creeping toward $50,000, it’s refreshing to see some new options that are significantly less expensive than that. If you have a city/suburb commute situation that can be solved by a scooter, but you want the comfort of a seat and the protection of doors and a roof, then maybe the $11,900 Eli Zero is for you. Billed as a “Neighborhood Electric Vehicle” this little two-seater is limited on speed, but its tiny size means easy parking and frugal electron-sipping fill ups.

Image: Eli

With a tiny 8 kWh battery onboard — less battery than my LiveWire motorcycle — this little electric machine is rated for 60 miles of range in Europe, though the company has hinted that a 90-mile version will be coming to the U.S. market. Federal regulations for NEVs mean it is limited to a 25 mph top speed and can’t go on roads with speed limits over 35, but that does mean it can drive on most roads in most cities, just like a scooter. Unlike a scooter, it has all of the amenities of a car, like an HVAC system, a 5.6 cubic foot trunk, and Apple CarPlay.

Image: Eli

Neighborhood Electric Vehicles have been available in the U.S. for quite a few years now, with Stellantis subsidiary GEM being the most popular (selling 50,000 units since 1998). There are certainly less expensive options out there than the Eli, but this is perhaps the most car-like experience I’ve seen from a NEV in recent years. It’s lightyears ahead of the Changli, for example.

Image: Eli

Almost twelve grand sounds like a lot of money for a car that can’t exceed 25 miles per hour, until you consider that a small electric scooter is going to run you nine grand on the low end. I’d probably rather have one of these than a BMW CE04 at the same price point. And I’m sure I’d rather have the Eli than a Fiat 500e or Mini Cooper SE at three times the price.

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