GreenGo Tek is a boastful little electric vehicle company. A press release issued by GGT over the summer to announce the new Cozmo neighborhood electric vehicle stated that, because the company also does EV conversions: "GGT is the only company in the world with the technology and manufacturing ability to retrofit any standard truck or car into an electric vehicle, avoiding any speed regulations." Wrong. GGT isn't modest, that's for sure.
What GGT is, though, is a Milford, Michigan-based company that puts an ell-electric drivetrain inside a small vehicle imported from China. Once turned into an EV, the Cozmo is the very definition of a neighborhood electric vehicle, almost identical to many others on the market in the U.S. today. We recently spent a few minutes behind the wheel of the Cozmo during the Business of Plugging In expo in Detroit. Follow us after the jump to learn more about this NEV and how it compares to competitors like the Wheego Whip.
Photos copyright ©2009 Sebastian Blanco / Weblogs, Inc.
As we noted when we drove the Whip, there are sacrifices that every NEV driver needs to make, starting with the 25 mph top speed. Before we get to that, though, let's start with the Cozmo itself.
There's a case to be made that if you've seen one NEV based on a Chinese-built rolling chassis, you've seen them all. Tiny, somewhat cheap-feeling and minimalist, the Cozmo won't win any design awards, but we did like the swooping taillights. The center brakelight that sits on the bottom of the car is bizarre.
On the inside, everything was functional and worked, but we imagine that going the full 60 miles that the Cozma is capable of on a full charge would be a bit trying. The car felt rickety and loose and was quite noisy, even at low speeds. The Cozmo lacks power steering or power brakes, which doesn't make it the easiest vehicle to maneuver. The brakes are tremendously soft, which makes us thankful that you can't get the car going too fast.
Sitting in the driver seat shows a simple dashboard with a speedometer and clock. That's it. Battery state of charge is displayed on a stub that sits between the driver and passenger seats. A menu button near the gear shifter toggles the display through RPM, state of charge, battery temperature, voltage. The system is simple and not terribly informative, but it gets the job done.
The $17,900 Cozmo hatchback is powered by a 72V system made up of six 9V lead-based glass batteries. The pack recharges in 8 hours from a 110 outlet and a full charge gives a range of 60 miles in moderate temperatures, depending on driver behavior. Missing is any sort of regenerative brakes, but power windows and mirrors are standard. Air conditioning is a $2,400 option and will further reduce range. GGT assembles the motor, drivtrain and batteries in Milford and also sells the $19,900 E-Dyne Truck.
GGT has been in existence for about a year and started selling the Cozmo in July. So far, they have sold just over 50 units, most of these to a dealer in New Jersey who put an order in for 50 vehicles and has already taken delivery of 15. A handful of Cozmos have been sold in Michigan. If there is demand, GGT says it will invest in developing a bigger battery pack that can deliver longer range and hopes the U.S. creates a new vehicle category between NEVs and full-speed vehicles so the car's inherent ability to go 45 mph – as the Cozmos that GGT's sister company sells in Latin America are able to do – can be implemented in the States.
To be honest, we'd be pretty hesitant to take the Cozmo up to 45 mph. The shakes that the car was giving us at 20 mph didn't inspire confidence. The speedbumps in the test drive parking lot were rough, and a lot of Michigan roads have potholes that we imagine are also quite a challenge to anyone driving a Cozmo. And, at almost $18k, it's hard to recommend the Cozmo to any but those most desperate to get an EV in their garage. For some people – urban dwellers who don't need to go fast or more than, say, 45 miles a day – we can see a small niche for this NEV. For most, there are just too many other, better and more comfortable vehicle options (but not many with a pure electric powertrain). For $1,000 more, the Whip is just a better NEV all around. We'll try to remember to check in with that dealer in New Jersey in six months and see how many he's sold. Perhaps there's more to this car than is first apparent. Perhaps.