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The Čezeta is a motor scooter that was originally manufactured from 1957 to 1964 in what was then Czechoslovakia, (now the Czech Republic), by the Česká Zbrojovka Strakonice (ČZ) company, which manufactured motorcycles from 1935 to 1997. Production resumed in 2017 with the introduction of a new hand-built electric version Type 506.
Types 501, 502 and 505
The original design of the Čezeta is unique amongst scooters. It is unusually long for a two-wheeled vehicle at 2 metres and has a distinctive torpedo-shaped body with full length running boards and a long seat that lifted to reveal a substantial luggage compartment, using space that in most scooters is occupied by the fuel tank. This made the Čezeta ideal for two people and popular with young Czechs and their lovers. The front mudguard is fixed to the body and fully streamlined into the leg shields. The fuel tank is positioned above the front wheel, with the headlight fitted into a recess and a luggage rack on the flat top surface.
The scooter was originally powered by the 175cc ČZ two-stroke single-cylinder motorcycle engine, giving a top speed of 55 mph and economy of 3.2 litres/100km. The engine was modified for the enclosed scooter by having a drive pulley on the crankshaft driving a fan by means of a Vee belt. There were four foot-operated gears.
The original petrol versions were given type numbers that indicate their features. The first production started with Type 501, then with advancements like a starter motor a Type 502 was later released. The 501 model, built from 1957 to 1959, had the rear wheel supported on one side only and suspended by a rubber block. The later 502 model had a full fork with motorcycle shock absorbers. These types contain sub-types to further indicate their features, for example Type 502/00 is a 12V model with electric starter, and a Type 502/01 is a 6V model with foot-crank starting.
A three-wheeled utility version, the Type 505 (or 'rickshaw'), was built starting in 1960. This vehicle used mechanical components and front bodywork from the 502.
A popular sidecar was also produced, though in limited numbers - approximately 900 in total - by Drupol in Stiřín near Prague. This was sold as the 'Druzeta', the name coming as a combination of the two companies names.
In 2013, the Czech limited liability company Čezeta Motors s.r.o. was launched for the development of a new electric Type 506 by British expat Neil Eamonn Smith. The plan for the new scooter was to retain the original iconic design but update the technology to introduce a powerful rear hub motor powered and a large bank of Panasonic cells to make a high-performance sports scooter. In testing the prototype was capable of rapid acceleration from standstill (0-50 km/h in 3.2 secs), a top speed of 120 km/h and a range of up to 150km on a single charge.
In 2012, Mr Smith registered the Čezeta logo and trademarks (including a 3D trademark of the distinctive body shape) and converted two vintage scooters (during 2013-2014) to learn about EV technology and collect marketing research.
During the period 2015-2017 an entirely new Type 506 started to take shape. The method of construction was changed from steel monocoque to frame and composite bodyshell to save weight and local engineering companies and universities were partnered with to develop electric technologies. The stated aim of the company is as far as possible to use Czech or EU-made parts.
Pre-orders for the Type 506 began in March 2017 to mark the 60th anniversary of Čezeta and production began in September 2017 in Prostejov in the historic Wikov factory. The 506 is manufactured in two performance versions, the 506/01 and the 506/02, the latter having the highest power/weight ratio in its class in the world.
On 15 September 2017 the Czech Ministry of Transport confirmed the homologation of the Type 506 as the country's first serial-production electric vehicle.
In Summer 2018 the company completed the Czech Republic's most successful crowdfunding campaign to date, raising 15m Czech Crowns (approx 600,000 euro) in just 10 days. These funds will be used to finance an increase in production to 300 Type 506 for 2019 as well as investing into developing sales in the USA.
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In New Zealand, during the 1960s a local company, JNZ Manufacturing Ltd assembled the 'Čezeta' under the name 'N-Zeta'. New Zealand production was from 1958 or 1959 to perhaps 1964. The point of New Zealand production was that high import duties were placed on imported motor vehicles. New Zealand assembly reduced the imported cost and hence the duty. Further, New Zealand manufacture of components further reduced the duty. The JNZ Man Ltd apparently achieved 50% New Zealand manufacture by value, with tyres, seat, trim, lights, controls etc. The 501 model is identified visually by a center skirt horn and dual exhausts. It produced 8 bhp and could go 50 mph. The 502 model is identified visually by the addition of the unique 'supreme' moniker for the uprated single exhaust engine which solved the endemic cooling issue of the original along with the deletion of the center skirt horn. Output was 9.5 bhp, and top speed was 59mph. The 502 was available with electric start. Most mechanical parts were common with Jawa/CZs motorcycle range, except for the frame and wheels.
- "Čezeta získala investici 15 milionů přes crowdfunding, chce dalších pět milionů | Firmy a trhy". Lidovky.cz (in Czech). 2018-07-20. Retrieved 2018-07-29.
- čezeta motors s.r.o. company website - www.cezeta.com
- čezeta type 506 review on BBC autos - www.bbc.com/autos/story/20151231-electric-power-for-an-icon-of-the-atomic-age
- Gomola, Miroslav (2003). Motocykly ČZ aneb Strakonická Historie. Brno: AGM CZ. ISBN 9788085991253.
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