August 14, 2009 / 3:58 PM / 11 years ago

UPDATE 1-Zenn shares skid as economy, oil prices dent sales

* Q3 loss of C$0.08/shr vs loss C$0.06/shr

* Revenue down 61 percent at C$379,916

* Sold 19 low-speed vehicles in quarter vs year-earlier 67

* Shares fall as much as 17.6 pct on TSX Venture Exchange

TORONTO, Aug 14 (Reuters) - Shares of Zenn Motor Co ZNN.V tumbled as much as 17.6 percent on Friday after the maker of electric cars reported a deeper quarterly loss and a big drop in revenue as the weak economy and low oil prices cut into sales of its zero-emission vehicles.

The company lost C$2.6 million ($2.4 million), or 8 Canadian cents a share in its third quarter ended June 30, compared with C$1.9 million, or 6 Canadian cents a share, a year earlier.

Revenue fell 61.1 percent to C$379,916 from C$977,305.

Two analysts had forecast an average loss of C$2.1 million with revenue flat from a year earlier, according to Reuters Estimates.

Zenn’s shares were down 64 Canadian cents, or 12.8 percent, at C$4.35 on the Toronto Venture Exchange on Friday morning, after falling as low as C$4.11.

The company said it sold 19 of its low-speed, short-range cars in the quarter, compared to 67 in the 2008 quarter.

Another headwind for the company has been the strength of the Canadian dollar versus the U.S. dollar, which it said caused it to take a charge against operations of C$390,972 to adjust the carrying value of its inventory.

Zenn’s low-speed car is a true electric vehicle in that it does not have a gasoline-powered generator as do the plug-in hybrids planned for release next year by large automakers. These include Toyota Motor Co’s (7203.T) plug-in Prius and General Motors Co’s [GM.UL] Chevy Volt.

Zenn said that buyer motivations in the market for its low-speed vehicles are characterized as a discretionary spend, driven by high oil prices or environmental awareness.

The cars, which have a top speed of about 40 km/h (25 mph) are typically used in controlled-access areas such as campuses, parks or retirement communities, where speeds are lower than on public roads

“The current North American environment however is characterized by relatively low oil prices, limited consumer credit and confidence, reduced discretionary spending and low prices for conventional automobiles that provide full automotive functionality and are relatively fuel efficient,” the company said in a release.

Zenn has an exclusive license with EEStor, a privately owned Texas company that is working on developing a battery that it says will be able to power a highway-capable four-door sedan for 400 km (250 miles) without recharging.

During the quarter, Zenn invested about US$5 million in EEStor, giving it about a 10.7 percent equity interest.

“This investment gives our shareholders a stake in the many potential mass applications of EEStor’s technology including portable consumer electronics, improving the performance of renewable energy sources such as wind and solar generation, and increasing the efficiency and stability of power grids around the world,” said Ian Clifford, Zenn’s chief executive. ($1=$1.09 Canadian) (Reporting by John McCrank; editing by Rob Wilson)

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