By on March 14, 2008

ZAP CRAP

According to GM Car Czar Bob Lutz, “The electrification of the automobile is inevitable.”  Inevitability also applies to the sun going cold. But with rising gas prices, some of us old timers are getting impatient (having had our youthful appetite whetted by GM’s Electrovair way back in 1966). The Li-ion-powered Tesla Roadster is simultaneously sold out and yet not in production. Dozens of other miraculous EV’s are just a $5k deposit and an infinitely adjustable (and not so inevitable) delivery date away. Meanwhile, down at your local Zap dealer, the banner proclaims: “saving the planet, one vehicle at a time.” Their Xebra is all charged-up and ready to roll.

The idea of the Xebra has certain compelling aspects. A “fill-up” cost as little as thirty-five cents. Its advertised top speed is 40mph. The 30-mile range would do the job for a round-the-town errand mobile. And $11,200 buys approving looks from PC neighbors for reducing your carbon footprint; that’s about a-tenth of the costs of a Tesla.

Anyway, I’m thinking Tesla’s got it all backwards. Why spend $125k for a Roadster AND a conventional car (a necessity for longer trips, going shopping, or picking up the folks at the airport)? Half that amount will put a Xebra on display in the driveway with enough left over to stash a Lotus, Boxster or ‘Vette in the garage. Run your errands all week for a penny per mile, and head for the hills on the weekend.

Unfortunately, Zap spends more time and energy on hyping vaporware (and its stock) than actually building functional vehicles, as documented in this scathing expose. Their web site entices eco-warriors with a cornucopia of EV’s offering blazing acceleration (0 -60 in 4.5 seconds) and miraculous range (240 miles). Delivery: TBD.

Zap’s stock peaked at $4 a share in 2004 with the announcement of its electric-conversion Smart car. After that program short-circuited, its stock began a protracted melt-down (currently $.58). Desperate, Zap turned to China for something tangible to sell. Small electric three-wheelers are common and cheap there (about $3k), built in small factories that are anything but environmentally responsible. ZAP imports them with a hefty markup.

img_7323-md.jpgThe Xebra’s questionable provenance is painfully evident. Its crudely finished fiberglass body is a rolling wart of huge panel gaps, wavy surfaces and rough edges. The tiny car’s interior unleashed a flood of childhood memories of being squeezed into an original Fiat 500, without the playful use of design and materials. The Xebra screams “kit car,” especially when checking out its primitive golf-cart mechanicals. Six conventional twelve-volt lead-acid batteries provide 72 volts to the 6.7hp (not a typo) coffee-can motor.

I arrived an hour too late to drive the one sedan at the dealer. The buyers were busy signing papers for the $16k heavily-optioned metallic-green apple of their eye. What did the extra $5k buy them? Air conditioning? Power windows? More power? Not available at any price. We’re talking “custom wiring,” an upgraded controller, LED lights, alloys and a custom paint-job that would make Earl Scheib proud.

Once I squeezed myself into the Xebra pick-up, I had to contort my legs to operate the two pedals located on the left side of the steering column. As I turned into traffic, I was overwhelmed by the sensation that I’ve just committed a youthful prank– stealing one of those electric garbage-can haulers from a convention center. And I’m having doubts whether I’m going to be able to outrun the security guard running after me.

Flat-out and level, the speedometer eventually finds an unsteady waver between thirty-two and thirty-four. A moderate hill quickly drops “speed” into the teens. Every bump, crack and pothole becomes an obstacle to avoid or regret. The motor whines like a hairdryer about to expire (the salesman admits the sedan is even noisier). I have no desire to check the actual range of this motorized wheelbarrow/hair-shirt. Which way is back to the convention center? Why does my xB suddenly feel like a Bentley?

1996985103_09856e29ec.jpgA Xebra owners’ on-line forum reveals a consensus on range: 15 to 17 miles. And there are tales of endless woes of terrible build quality and material defects. Zap’s six month warranty is a small consolation. Discussions abound on ways to fix and improve the Xebra’s multitude of shortcomings. ZAP dealer Mark Higley bluntly responds to a damsel in distress with a dead Xebra: “I never recommend it as a primary source of transportation”.

The weekend Boxster is going to have to wait until someone builds my formula for a cheap urban electric errand-mobile: convert a $2500 Tata Nano (which looks downright spacious, well finished and safe compared to the Xebra), give it a genuine 30 mile range and a 45mph top speed, and price it at $8k to $10k. That’s so obvious, it should be inevitable.

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

103 Comments on “2008 Zap Xebra Review...”


  • avatar

    Thanks for the review. Did you notice any handling difference having only one wheel in front? I’m guessing the weight of the batteries covers a lot of sins, but delta trikes are well-known for tipping while braking.

  • avatar
    Martin Schwoerer

    Great review of a lousy car.

    In writing about the Geneva show, I might have mentioned that Toyota made public its plans for a plug-in Prius. Range for the only-electric mode: 20 miles; top speed: 60 mph. Delivery date: 2010. Personally, this is the only planned car I know of that is worth waiting for.

  • avatar
    GS650G

    Cities like San Francisco will buy these things and use them for government workers to get around. Maybe even as cop cars.

  • avatar
    KixStart

    Martin Schwoerer,

    Do you mean ‘top speed 60mph’ in electric mode?

  • avatar
    i6

    “Flat-out and level, the speedometer eventually finds an unsteady waver between thirty-two and thirty-four. A moderate hill quickly drops “speed” into the teens. Every bump, crack and pothole becomes an obstacle to avoid or regret. The motor whines like a hairdryer about to expire.”

    That’s a review of me on my bicycle.

  • avatar
    Martin Schwoerer

    KixStart: yes, top speed 60mph. Autobild.tv shows the prototype and an interview with Toyota’s European EV boffin Hans-Peter Wandt. The prototype only has a range of 8 miles but the 2010 model, using a Li-Ion battery, intends to up that to 20 miles. The concept vehicle was, I think, shown at the Detroit show but the European version is actually being driven on Belgian roads. Sure beats the Chinese garbage.

  • avatar
    Juniper

    After Mustang, Jaguar and Alfa reviews this is a real let down. Gawd I hope this is not the future.
    Speaking of letdowns. I saw my first Smart car on the road yesterday. I’m not sure what I expected, I think I thought it would be cool. It wasn’t. It was “Oh look a Smart Car!!! WTF!!!”

  • avatar

    Road & Track traditionally puts an odd vehicle through its regular road test for the April issue. This car seems a viable candidate.

    Is TTAC planning anything special for April 1?

  • avatar
    KixStart

    Martin Schwoerer,

    Danke, ich habe ein Autobild.tv Artikel gefunden.

    I’ll go through it with my trusty (but 35-year-old) Deutsch-Englisch Woerterbuch this evening. I’m shocked at how little I could understand off-hand.

  • avatar

    For some reason, this little pickup offends me deeply. Maybe it’s because Ford used to offer the Ford Ranger EV, maybe it’s because the Ranger would be a much better car than this… it was reliable, efficient, and more comfortable. In other words, an excellent buy.

    Yet, naturally, Ford killed it.

    I say someone needs to put an electric motor in the Ranger chassis. Forget the Nano for now, the Ranger has a proven reliability record and has a decent reputation in the United States.

  • avatar
    tony-e30

    @ Michael Karesh :
    “Is TTAC planning anything special for April 1?”

    I’ve heard that TTAC is planning on a two week shutdown to create better alignment and efficiency across organizational lines and boost productivity.

  • avatar
    keepaustinweird

    Someone in my neighborhood has not one, but TWO of these things in their driveway.

  • avatar
    Bancho

    I don’t really fault that vehicle for its shortcomings. There are probably uses for it where it can excel. I fault Zap’s failed business plan that markets this thing as something it isn’t. Over $11,000? Seriously? When you visited the showroom did you notice if they left their bong out in plain sight?

    Toys-r-us sells power wheels with more style, speed and options.

    edit: Holy crap! Does that thing have a radio in it? The range is barely enough to get through a song! Oh wait, I guess at its’ actual achievable velocity you could get in an album or so.

  • avatar
    Johnster

    Michael Karesh: Road & Track traditionally puts an odd vehicle through its regular road test for the April issue. This car seems a viable candidate.

    The April issue of Road & Track was available on March 1. They “virtually” tested the Racer Motors Mach 5 from the “Speed Racer” movie.

    Zero to sixty in six tenths (0.6) of a second, but only 7 mpg.

  • avatar

    My thought is what would happen to the DVD playing in the 2008 Toyota Sequoia [Platinum] that was recently reviewed, if the Sequoia t-boned the Xebra, would it cause the DVD to skip, or would the occupants of the uber-tank even notice?

  • avatar
    Paul Niedermeyer

    Donal Fagan: Did you notice any handling difference having only one wheel in front?

    At the speed this thing trundles along, having three wheels is not much of an issue, except it makes it harder to miss potholes, etc. Three wheelers tend to understeer/skate, due to the imbalance in the amount of rubber between front and back.

    theswedishtiger: neither.

  • avatar
    Thinx

    Anybody have experience with something called a REVA electric car? Here is a link I found some time ago when I was googling around for EV’s.

    http://www.revaindia.com/

    They claim to have a range of about 50 miles, with a 50mph top speed. As far as I know, it has been in production for a few years – a coworker of mine from Bangalore said he has seen some on the streets there, but does not personally know anyone who owns one, so no more info…

  • avatar
    dean

    Great review! I chuckled all the way through. Love the performance summary, too. Fiberglass 101 project indeed.

    I pity the people plunking down $16k of presumably hard-earned money on the sedan version of this piece of crap. They’d be better off buying an eight year old Corolla and finding some guy on Craislist to do a home-built electric conversion for them. It would be better on every metric, save for the “Look at me — I’m dumb as a bag of hammers for trying to buy overpriced green credibility” metric.

  • avatar
    sitting@home

    edit: Holy crap! Does that thing have a radio in it? The range is barely enough to get through a song!

    And how much does it reduce the range to keep the radio on ?

    Reminds me of the electric milk floats they used to have in the UK; at the end of the day you’d see them struggle to get back to the depot with all lights and wipers switched off to preserve every last ounce of power.

  • avatar
    cjdumm

    6.7 horsepower? I used to have a walk-behind brush-mower (we used to live in the sticks) that harnessed more ponies than this rolling turd.

    I’d put a quart of gas in its little plastic tank, and it would happily (and loudly) munch and mulch my so-called yard for about an hour, at full throttle. (Hearing protection strongly optional, but highly recommended.)

    I’m not an engineer, but doing some *very* rough math/guessing makes me wonder if this Xebra chassis might be less revolting (a bit quicker and with *much* greater range) yet still get 70-80 mpg, with my lawnmower-sourced engine instead.

    And that was a Victorian-era Briggs & Stratton; Honda and Nissan make very refined small 4-strokes that would be better still.

    They wouldn’t help the driving dynamics much, though.

  • avatar
    modemjunki

    Thinx, I’m in Bangalore right now and have been for a week. I’ve seen three of the Reva cars on the street, and my taxi driver jostled in traffic behind one. It seemed to be able to easily keep up with (or even overtake) the Honda City 5-speed taxi.

    For this environment, they seem to make sense. There is a tremendous amount of pollution in the air. The congestion here has to be experienced to be understood. The streets are quite literally packed with scooters, small cycles (under 200cc), autocars (three wheeled open taxicabs, most with two stroke engines, some with LPG conversions), microcars, compact cars, larger variants of the autocars used as trucks, farm tractors, trucks, buses… all manner of motorized conveyance can be seen interwoven with pedestrians. The degree of skill it takes to pilot a vehicle in this environment cannot be understated (I certainly wouldn’t be game to try it, never mind that I’m from a left-hand drive country). Top speeds possible in light traffic is in the 35-40MPH range – in short bursts only. The ideal vehicle for this environ seems to be the microcar or microvan.

    So, a vehicle like the Reva seems like a great alternative for those who need and can afford it, and don’t leave the city.

    But in the non-tropical and SUV-centric world that is my home country, this vehicle would probably not survive. It’s too weird looking, would probably not be able to comply with any side-impact standards, and it’s unlikely it could perform well in the frozen Northern winters. Not to mention it doesn’t have a heater….

  • avatar
    Paul Niedermeyer

    Electric vehicles have a bright future as part of vehicle mix. The problem is most of them are still stuck in the cottage industry/vaporware stage. When the large manufacturers overcome issues of scale, cost, and performance, things should change. And I do think that there will be an electric Nano in the future. There’s no way the cottage industry types can even approach the Nano as an EV platform.

  • avatar
    burgermind

    I know a guy who had one of these. I remember he said how much he liked it at the time. Then a few months later, I saw it parked out by the street with a for sale sign on it. IIRC, he wanted $8k. Needless to say, it sat there for months.

  • avatar
    Geotpf

    This makes sense for certain limited industrial applications; that is, delevering mail or parts or trash cans or whatever around a large factory, college campus, or the like, especially if some buildings were down the street from each other (that is, you needed something vaguely street legal to go the block or two between the two sites, unlike a golf cart). It’s certainly not meant to be used as an actual automobile doing actual driving around town.

  • avatar

    # keepaustinweird :
    Someone in my neighborhood has not one, but TWO of these things in their driveway.

    sounds like they’re doing their part (to keep austin weird). Sorry!!! I couldn’t help myself!

  • avatar
    alex_rashev

    It does make sense. Only it makes sense as a $3000 ‘car-bike’, mass-produced in China. At current prices, it’s not much different from indulgences sold by Rome back in the day.

    The only reason to drive something like this is to save money (=gas), and there are far better ways to do that right now. Like keeping that 1992 Corolla until it dies (like that’s ever gonna happen).

  • avatar
    RedStapler

    2WD 5 speed compact pickups are the ideal platform for EV conversion. They are small enough to have 30-50miles of range while able to take the extra 1000+ lbs of weight from the battery bank. You can get a used 2wd Ranger or S-10 for $1-3k.

    You put the motor and 3-4 batteries where the engine used to live and the balance of the battery bank between the frame rails under the bed for a nice low center of gravity.

    The Luigiian :

    I say someone needs to put an electric motor in the Ranger chassis. Forget the Nano for now, the Ranger has a proven reliability record and has a decent reputation in the United States.

  • avatar
    BEAT

    That’s why Europeans don’t complaint about gas prices because they drive scooters,bikes,mini cars and the car above.

    Americans hasn’t learned from the past like the Opec Oil embargo remember how many hours did you waited on the gas station to pump your continental car with gas?

  • avatar
    dkulmacz

    So this abomination gets one star, and the Ford Focus gets zero stars? Whiskey Tango Foxtrot???

  • avatar
    Paul Niedermeyer

    dkulmacz: So this abomination gets one star, and the Ford Focus gets zero stars? Whiskey Tango Foxtrot???

    Oops; I thought one star was the minimum.

  • avatar

    dkulmacz : So this abomination gets one star, and the Ford Focus gets zero stars? Whiskey Tango Foxtrot??? Uh, the Focus got one star as well. And while all TTAC reviewers strive for the truth, we have all have different ways of perceiving/grading it. I may have given the Xebra no stars. That said… Paul Niedermeyer: Actually, you're right: we don't have the system rigged for no stars. I'll talk to the techies on Monday.

  • avatar
    dkulmacz

    I stand corrected.

    I remembered a comment someone made in the Focus thread to the tune of “is this the first X-star on TTAC?”, and figured that X had to be zero. Rereading it I found the exact comment and it was indeed “is this the first 1-star on TTAC?”.

    OK, fine. This is obviously still not on par with the Focus or any of the other recent oneders. You need that zero rating . . .

  • avatar
    Lumbergh21

    Is ther any reason to buy this rather than a 50cc scooter or a bicycle for 1/10 the cost or less? The scooter or even a bike would probably be more enjoyable and more practicle. I’ve got a walk behind lawn mower in the garage with a 5.5 hp motor for god sakes! As others have said, why not just buy a cheap light weight car from the 70′s/80′s and install a relatively heavy duty DC motor ,producing let’s say 20 hp, install 15 lead acid batteries, and you’ve got a more comfortable vehicle with more power and a greater range per charge for well less than half the cost. I love how Hybrid News defends the car or whatever you want to call it, as appropriate for its purpose. Seems to me its purpose is seperating eco-fools from their eco-money (they seem to think its running errands around town or the commune).

  • avatar
    rtz

    Why can’t Zap import some other EV’s? http://www.motorfactories.com/ec001.html http://www.motorfactories.com/ec003.html

  • avatar
    franz

    Is this thing the long-lost nephew of the Cushman meter-maid mobile parking enforcement officer’s cruiser?

  • avatar
    casper00

    This is got to be a joke, what a waste of time, money and space….

  • avatar
    jthorner

    I would rather buy and restore an old VW Rabbit Diesel pickup than be caught dead in a Zap, rhymes with Crap.

    Speaking of being caught dead, you know why it only has three wheels, right? So it is classified as a “motorcycle” and doesn’t have to meet any safety standards.

  • avatar
    rudiger

    Anyone remember the 3-wheeled Dale from 1974? Supposedly able to get 70 mpg from an 850cc engine and cost $2k. In reality, it was nothing but a scam which played on fears of the first gas crisis, perptuated by a 6′, 200lb transsexual:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dale_sports_car

  • avatar
    jdriver

    What other company offers a vehicle for under $12,000? The people that buy electric vehicles are looking to save money and the environment. How do you save money by paying $60,000 for an electric car. ZAP is actually getting EVs on the road today and something should be said for that! These cars are not for everyone, but you got to hand it to the company for their efforts to clean the environment.

  • avatar
    Andy D

    jdriver :
    March 15th, 2008 at 3:00 pm

    What other company offers a vehicle for under $12,000? The people that buy electric vehicles are looking to save money and the environment. ….

    lotsa companies, bicycle companies.
    My brother commutes 14 miles a day on a bicycle. A couple of good sized hills involved too. And a bike is prolly safer than that thing.

  • avatar
    rudiger

    “ZAP is actually getting EVs on the road today and something should be said for that! These cars are not for everyone, but you got to hand it to the company for their efforts to clean the environment.“Uh, no. ZAP is not interested in cleaning the environment. ZAP is interested in getting as many saps as possible to buy their glorified, overpriced, enclosed golf cart in an effort to make lots of money. Hell, the Xebra doesn’t even qualify as an NEV (Neighborhood Electric Vehicle) because it only has three wheels.

  • avatar
    jdriver

    “Uh, no. ZAP is not interested in cleaning the environment. ZAP is interested in getting as many saps as possible to buy their glorified, overpriced, enclosed golf cart in an effort to make lots of money.”

    If that was true then why is it that ZAP! is not turning a profit. I think most of the people on this site have absolutely no clue what it takes to try to actually get a product to the market. Why do you think there are so few EV’s on the road? If it was such a profitable business don’t you think more people would be making these things? I happened to be an investor of ZAP and I think you people have no consideration for what it takes to fight the uphill battle of fighting the oil money. I don’t think any of you really give a crap about global warming, our environment or anything other than what car will go the fastest. If more people would actually be constructive instead of doing a bunch of uneducated bad-mouthing then maybe we could actually see cars like the ZAP-X on the road.

    http://www.zapworld.com/files/zap-docs/zap-apx.pdf

  • avatar
    jdriver

    http://www.detroit-electric.com/

    The Alias is another way ZAP! is trying to change the perception of their company. This is due out in 2009 and is in production right now.

    http://www.detroit-electric.com/

  • avatar
    rudiger

    “If that was true then why is it that ZAP! is not turning a profit.“Because they haven’t a clue as to what they’re doing.

    Maybe if the Xebra was more realistically priced at around $6k (which is also about the price of a good electric golf cart), then it might actually garner enough sales for ZAP to make a profit and it could conceivably be believed that they’re trying to benefit the environment.

    But gouging a few suckers for $12k, well, that’s ‘real car’ money that would much better be spent on a real car like a Toyota Yaris, Hyundai Accent, Kia Rio, or even a smart fortwo.

  • avatar
    jdriver

    rudiger :
    March 15th, 2008 at 5:59 pm

    …that’s ‘real car’ money that would much better be spent on a real car like a Toyota Yaris, Hyundai Accent, Kia Rio, or even a smart fortwo.

    You just don’t get the fact that this company is trying to avoid burning fossil fuels. All of these cars run on gas. ZAP never tried to market this as a “real car” anyway. It is for a niche market.

  • avatar
    jdriver

    This is a “real car” and if people like you don’t run ZAP! in the ground maybe it will actually get to the market.

    http://www.zapworld.com/files/zap-docs/zap-apx.pdf

  • avatar
    Paul Niedermeyer

    jdriver: “If more people would actually be constructive instead of doing a bunch of uneducated bad-mouthing then maybe we could actually see cars like the ZAP-X on the road.”

    I was very constructive in my review: reread the last paragraph.

    The ZAP-X is anything but a real car; it’s a proposed concept, like quite a few others ZAP has floated before. ZAP and the other EV cottage industry types aren’t capitalized adequately to bring something like the ZAP-X to market. Look how hard it is for Tesla and GM (Volt).

  • avatar
    jdriver

    Paul Niedermeyer :
    March 15th, 2008 at 6:31 pm

    “I was very constructive in my review: reread the last paragraph.”

    I was speaking more about the comments than the actual article. I am saying that the concept of the ZAP-X is a real car, but the Xebra was never meant to be a “real car”

    Capitalization could happen if more people would get behind the movement. If more people would invest in these companies instead of buying up as many barrels of oil as they can and running up the cost of gas, then we would see the capitalization nescessary to bring a car like the ZAP-X to the market.

  • avatar
    rudiger

    “This is a “real car” and if people like you don’t run ZAP! in the ground maybe it will actually get to the market.“ZAP doesn’t need any help from ‘people like me’ – it sounds like they’re doing a fine job of running themselves into the ground all on their own.

  • avatar
    jdriver

    rudiger,
    Do you know anything about the history of this company? They have been trying to bring EVs to the market for 14 years. Are you going to wait until the planet heats up another few degrees before you realize that something needs to be done?

  • avatar
    blowfish

    How about the French air propelled car?
    It looks like it doesnt rely on any heavy batteries which is an environment issue per se.
    The tanks can be made cheaper.
    Perhaps is not made of hot air cant get Al Gore’s kosher.
    And even a on board small gas engine to run the compressor. To extend the range.
    Electric are still kind of at a snake oil stage, or Laetrile of 2008.

  • avatar
    rudiger

    Why would I care about the history of a company that is trying to pawn off a $12k electric golf cart as a real car, regardless of how noble their claimed intentions might be?

    Others have pointed out (accurately) that there are much better (and cheaper) transportation alternatives to those inclined to be concerned about the environment. Given the extreme limitations of the Xebra’s range, the first thing that comes to my mind is a bike. ZAP’s heart might be in the right place (which I, personally, still question), but that’s not going to cut it in the cold, hard business world.

    Like I said, drop the price of the Xebra (or whatever they’re selling) down to the realities of the market and maybe they’ll have a chance of making a go of it (whatever their ultimate intentions might be).

    Until then, those concerned about the environment and have the need for a real car need to cough up the cash for a hybrid or diesel from an established vehicle manufacturer.

  • avatar
    Paul Niedermeyer

    jdriver: “If more people would invest in these companies instead of buying up as many barrels of oil as they can and running up the cost of gas,…”

    It’s only by virtue of high oil and gas prices that the EV market is showing signs of life again. No money was flowing to EV projects when oil was $10/barrel. High oil prices are the only salvation the EV industry has; by running up the price of gas, we’re doing ZAP a big favor.

  • avatar
    Paul Niedermeyer

    Here’s something lifted from the Yahoo Xebra forum:

    “The Zap Xebra as shipped from Zap is an unacceptable
    vehicle. It is poorly designed and badly constructed.
    However, it is possible to turn it into an acceptable
    vehicle, and the better dealers offer modifications
    for those buyers who do not wish to do them
    themselves.”

    My question is: If ZAP is so noble, and committed to “saving the planet”, why aren’t they instigating any quality control at the factory? They’re destroying/perpetuating their (bad) reputation by selling shoddy products.

  • avatar
    jdriver

    rudiger :
    March 15th, 2008 at 7:18 pm

    Why would I care about the history of a company that is trying to pawn off a $12k electric golf cart as a real car, regardless of how noble their claimed intentions might be?

    Once again I don’t know where you keep coming up with the idea that the Xebra is being marketed as a “real car”? It is what it is. UPS began leasing 42 Xebra’s for small parcel deliveries in February. This or as a pizza delivery vehicle would be the ideal purpose for these vehicles. If you bought this to replace your primary vehicle, then yes, you would be an idiot. I am now done with this discussion, I just believe in the company and hate to see people trying to take the wind out of their sail.

  • avatar
    jdriver

    forget it…I’m done here. This is the wrong forum for me. My word is falling on deaf ears.

  • avatar
    rudiger

    “Once again I don’t know where you keep coming up with the idea that the Xebra is being marketed as a “real car”?“Might have to do with ZAP wanting real car prices for it. They want a lot of dough for a vehicle with a 15 mile range and extremely poor build quality. Maybe if they were a little more forthright in mentioning that it’s actually licensed as a three-wheeled motorcycle.

    As the author points out, the only thing that’s getting them any publicity (and sales) at all is the high price of oil. And that, I suspect, is the underlying reason behind the current, seemingly steep, asking price, i.e., taking advantage of the situation.

  • avatar
    Qusus

    jdriver makes good points: this car isn’t supposed to be used as a “true” car so judging it compared to Corolla’s and xB’s as some commentators have done is kinda silly.

  • avatar
    rudiger

    “My word is falling on deaf ears.“It’s probably because your arguments sound rather like those of a starry-eyed idealist or, worse, a ZAP company shill.

    I’m all for saving the environment, too, but paying big-bucks for an electric vehicle of exceptionally dubious construction and range is not a sound financial way to go about it.

  • avatar
    rudiger

    Actually, after further thought, if the Xebra is not a real car and/or used as transportation but is marketed, instead, as a ‘niche’ vehicle as claimed, what, exactly, is the market niche?

    Really expensive, enclosed, electric 3-wheel golf carts that can only go slowly for 15 miles on city streets and tie up traffic in the process? There’s a guy on the Yahoo Xebra group that seems to revel in doing exactly that.

    I suppose there’s a market for such a vehicle but it would seem to be quite limited (I think the Wikipedia article on ZAP says they sold something like 150 Xebras last year).

    Still, if those 150 Xebras averaged around $12k a pop, that’s a cool $1.8 million gross.

  • avatar
    jdriver

    Paul Niedermeyer : March 15th, 2008 at 7:30 pm Here’s something lifted from the Yahoo Xebra forum: This is from the same forum and same person… "There's about a year and a half waiting list for a $100,000 Tesla Roadster. The $70,000 eBox is only available in California. Rav4EVs are few and far between, and the newest are 5 years old, and if you are lucky enough to find one they go for $60,000. LOTS and LOTS of companies have been promising for a couple of years to sell an EV "real soon," but "real soon" never comes. There are some really cool videos on YouTube of prototypes, all promising to sell them SOON, and we wait, and we wait, and we wait… So if you want to drive electric NOW, the Xebra is just about all there is. I am not particularly satisfied with my Xebra, but I LOVE driving it. And since the alternative is to burn gas, I am very happy that I have The Snail." For what it's worth…yes rudiger, I am a starry-eyed idealist, a dreamer, a musician and try to do my part to try to address the necessity for change in the world. OK now I'm done.

  • avatar
    jdriver

    Okay, one more thing.

    check this out:

    http://www.sonyclassics.com/whokilledtheelectriccar/

  • avatar
    i6

    jdriver-
    The people that buy electric vehicles are looking to save money and the environment.

    First of all, nobody can ‘save’ the environment, we can only be more responsible guardians.

    Now, if we look at the Xebra in the most favourable light, with it’s owners using it every single day for a year to it’s maximum range, it will supplant the CO2 from 400-500 gallons of burned fuel in a regular car (not including the emissions generated in delivering the electricity the Xebra runs on). What do you think is more harmful to the environment, the extra CO2 from the regular car or the production of an entire vehicle (in China, no less)? That’s assuming the thing lasts the year and doesn’t kill it’s occupants too, of course.

    As for costs, remember that this thing can’t take the place of any real car so every expense to run it is simply an extra expense. You don’t have to believe me and everyone else on this forum, the value of your investment in this company will eventually reveal the truth.

  • avatar
    KixStart

    i6, “As for costs, remember that this thing can’t take the place of any real car so every expense to run it is simply an extra expense.”

    That’s not necessarily true. Many families have more than one car. There’s no reason one of these vehicles couldn’t be a low-capability vehicle like this, just for the local commuting, where conditions were right.

    That said, I wouldn’t buy one because conditions here aren’t right. It’s absolutely not safe enough for even our local driving. Anywhere over a mile and you’re on a 40-55mph road. I am not Xap-ping on roads like that. I can ride my bicycle on the paths and that’s much safer and better for me.

    i6, “You don’t have to believe me and everyone else on this forum, the value of your investment in this company will eventually reveal the truth.”

    Sad but, most likely, true.

  • avatar
    jdriver

    ZAP! is a company that produces more than just this vehicle. They make electric bicycles, scooters, ATVs, conversion kits, and many battery charging accessories. They have sold over 100,000 vehicles since inception in 1994. They plainly recommend on their site that people should ride bicycles and walk or take public transportation to save burning fossil fuels. I do believe that ZAP has made the mistake of trying to get something to the market too early and sacrificed quality, but the fact is they are actually getting something out there as an option while other companies have some future date that has yet to come to fruition. This vehicle is classified as a motorcycle by the way and is designed only for the city dweller who has a reasonably short commute. Living in Portland, OR there are many days of rain and looking at getting on a bicycle just doesn’t really work. Going to the grocery store on a bike doesn’t usually cut it. So a lot of people are going to hop in their Suburban or Yukon to go buy a couple of bags of groceries. I think the few people that have the desire to do something different will love this vehicle, despite its short-comings. Once again this is not a “real” car or made for the rural commuter. If you compare this vehicle against the other electric vehicle options such as the ‘Zenn’ or ‘Miles’ you will find a lot of the same issues. This should not even be reviewed on this site, since it is called “The Truth About Cars” not “Recreational Vehicles” which is what the Xebra is classified as.

    Okay now I’m really done…

  • avatar
    jdriver

    Okay one more thing. I just read a review:

    http://www.obairlann.net/reaper/zap-xebra/

    Isn’t funny how the picture is the same and the info is the same. Did you even test this vehicle Paul? Do you always steal photos from other sites?

    If I’m flaming the author or this site then by all means, feel free to permanantly ban me.

    Okay now I’m really, really done.

  • avatar
    confused1096

    Rename it the mobile coffin. It’s small enough to be buried in, a useful feature after an accident in this vehicle.

  • avatar
    KixStart

    jdriver, “ZAP! is a company that produces more than just this vehicle. They make electric bicycles,…”

    In the electric bike market you can do way better than Zap!. I recently tried out a Crystalite. Uff-da! Good range and a high top end. Downside – the one I tried was equipped with lead batteries of some sort – heavy. NiMH is an option from Crytalite. Those are kits.

    For a more polished solution, Giant offers a complete electric bike that’s quite nice. And Schwinn offers quite a few models (per web site – never seen one in the metal).

  • avatar
    Paul Niedermeyer

    jdriver: “Okay one more thing. I just read a review:

    http://www.obairlann.net/reaper/zap-xebra/

    Isn’t funny how the picture is the same and the info is the same. Did you even test this vehicle Paul? Do you always steal photos from other sites?”

    I did test the Xebra, at Electric Wheels in Salem, Oregon. I didn’t bring my camera, so I found these images by doing a Google image search, and they were given the appropriate credit.

    Since you brought it up, I read the review (from Seattle), and am not surprised to find that similar conclusions were drawn:

    “There, I discovered that my imagined misgivings were in fact not so imaginary. Notably, the “indicated 40 MPH” was actually 32 MPH (it didn’t feel like 40 at the time, but I was willing to put that down to having never driven an electric vehicle before). Major pieces (like the charger) falling off. Rainwater getting into electronics and destroying them (“Just avoid driving it in the rain.” In Seattle?). A complete lack of any service manual, and only a user-generated wiring diagram.

    I started considering whether I was willing to get into a “perpetual fixer” for $12,000, and it didn’t take long for the answer to become “no.” I’m not interested in spending such a large amount of money on anything that needs perpetual tending.

    For a car that costs that many dollars, I expect something that’s going to work for a year or two, at least. The Xebra PK appears to be similar in quality to a Trabant or a Yugo. If it cost $5000, that might be an acceptable compromise.

    So, despite the positive tone in the main body of the review, I no longer think the Xebra PK is worth what they’re asking for it. I still want an electric truck, but I’ll probably have to build my own to get what I actually want for a price I can afford.

    Unfortunately, electric vehicles have not yet arrived.”

  • avatar
    Bancho

    rudiger :

    “Still, if those 150 Xebras averaged around $12k a pop, that’s a cool $1.8 million gross.”

    Judging from the pics and review that would probably work out to $1.4 million in pure profit.

  • avatar
    jdriver

    Bancho : March 16th, 2008 at 8:48 pm “Judging from the pics and review that would probably work out to $1.4 million in pure profit.” It is the R&D that drives up the cost of building an electric vehicle. If all of you thought it was so easy to build an electric vehicle then why don’t you go out and do it. If one of you could show me how you can design, manufacture, market, and distribute any vehicle on a short run for only the bare cost of materials, then show me. If one of the big auto companies would get behind electric vehicle technology then they might have the capital necessary to produce a million vehicles therefore getting the cost down to something affordable without sacrificing quality. I agree the quality of the Xebra is crap. I have never argued that point. It is a freakin’ shame that it takes so much money to get an electric drive-train into a vehicle. If battery technology was more affordable than we would all be seeing a lot more EVs on the street. It is also a shame that Chevron owns patents on the best battery technology to date. http://www.ev1.org/chevron.htm

  • avatar
    Bancho

    jdriver :

    For someone who was “out” several posts ago you’re starting to add ad hominems to your shrill insistence that this vehicle deserves more than passing scorn.

    Take a good look at that thing. Please explain where there is anything to justify that *any* significant amount of R&D that went into it. I’d love to know. It’s a simple, primitive conveyance which can boast its’ ability to keep the occupant dry. The radio in the dash is exceedingly LOL-worthy because it really doesn’t fit with any particular usage that this thing could even pretend to bee good at.

    As to who should buy this thing? I’d say that *no one* should buy one. It could be used by companies for a few niche jobs where a golf cart or one of those Cushman vehicles is normally found and that is it.

    An individual buying this at the “bong hit” price of $11,000 for personal use really needs their head examined.

  • avatar
    Ingvar

    I used to run a similar vehicle in Europe when I worked as a delivery boy. The Pseudo-car market is ridiculously over-priced. Without the benefits of scale, the labour costs rises to the extreme. From a car-making perspective, they are practically handbuilt, with their productions numbers in the thousands compared to hundreds of thousands for a real car-maker. In Europe, they cost more or less the same as a “real” car, even the regular non-electric ones. I don’t think that the overhead is so much that some people think in this case. I would say that the asking price lays somewhat near the production costs, give or take a couple of thousands.

    So, why do people in Europe buy them?

    1. They can be driven without a driving-license.
    2. As it is registrered as a moped instead of car or motorcycle, the car needs no license number.
    3. And without license number, you don’t get a parking ticket.
    4. The size allow for creative parking and handling in the congestive streets in Europe.

    So, that gives a bunch of alcoholics who have lost their licenses freedom to run amok all over the place, and they don’t even have to pay when they park.

  • avatar

    Hell, my commute is 3 miles each way – an electric car actually WOULD make some sort of sense.

  • avatar
    Garak

    5. You don’t have to pay road- or fuel taxes, and the insurance is almost free.
    6. You can’t drive a real car until you’re 18, but the age limit for microcars is 15.

    There’s a market for these vehicles in Europe, especially for the Diesel engined models. The Xebra, however, looks really cheap and badly made compared to European microcars, but costs the same.

  • avatar
    Bancho

    I just want to point out that I’m *not* against electric vehicles. They do have a place and can be very useful in the proper circumstances. This one just looks (from the pics) and performs (from the review) horrible.

  • avatar
    Busbodger

    I was stationed in Italy in the early 90s and we drove 3-wheelers as basic transport around the base. These were Piaggio Apes (say Ah-pay). Two wheels in back, cargo box (enclosed), with a ??? cc 2-stroke rear mounted aircooled engine and four gears. Pedal brake, clutch and accelerator. It had drum brakes on all three wheels. Really better than it seems unless you are judging it beside a modern touring sedan.

    It was loud, everything did vibrate a little, and the exhaust manifold heater always smelled funny. It did have lights and a wiper. It did have a padded seat. The only really problem was that it was designed for two guys that were about 5’8″ tall and us taller American boys all rode along looking out of the top of the glass with our necks bent forward. Later we got the same vehicles with four wheels and seatbelts and they were MUCH better. We “speed tested” them both and the 4-wheelers would see 45+ mph. The 3-wheelers would go about 30+ mph but it was not a confident 30+ mph. Tippy to say the least with two grown fellows in the front and no cargo to hold the back end on the pavement. The four wheeled version was much better. To operate one for any real distance would require a bit more headroom and earplugs. We would run around in them and maybe put 20 miles on them per shift.

    They would have been improved (for our needs) with electric drive I think. Less vibration and noise anyhow. Good and bad is all relative to what you were operating before you bought one of these micro-haulers. If you were operating an oxe or one of the Italian gas powered tillers pulling a trailer like we saw from time to time near the farms, this would be a step up. You didn’t get rained on, it had good brakes, a bit of a heater, a windshield wiper, rollup windows (actually it was a spring loaded handle in a toothed groove that locked into a doen positions), and lights. They were reliable.

    The bad was the three wheeler part. I clipped a curb during a turn and put it up on two wheels for 50 feet or so. No damage but some heart-pounding fear. A couple of buddies had one running at 25 mph+ and rolled it about 5-6 times. Engine almost fell out, leaking fuel, all the corners were rounded, broken glass, bent doors, bent suspension, cuts and bruises, etc. Imagine two guys flopping around in the cab unrestrained.

    Getting hit by a compact car would be certain death I think so I wouldn’t even consider taking one out on the streets.

    Compared to these micro-haulers our plain-vanilla compact cars seemed quite spacious and comfortable. I’m comparing the Ape to a vintage Fiat 500, worn out Fiat 128, my ’65 Beetle, an 80s Rabbit, a Dodge Horizon, a Fiat Panorama van. All good and all very basic transportation.

    I think we Americans are really going to have to face reality if gasoline prices continue to climb. Maybe folks will burn gas to look prestigious just like they drive $40K vehicles they can’t afford now. I’m not saying we’ll see Apes around here but I do expect to see more and more super-mini classs cars. Fine by me.

    We can complain and call all of these alternative vehicle pieces of **** or complain about their lack of quality but as long as their prices reflect what they offer (or don’t offer) then I don’t see why anyone would complain so loudly about them. Basic but cheap at $4K-$5K.

    Heck if I could buy a “new” 1985 VW Rabbit at prices that reflect the fact that the design paid for itself 20 years ago, that tooling and overhead have been minimized by keeping an old design alike for so long, I’d be happy. Especially if the new parts prices were also cheap. If I could buy that same 80′s Rabbit with electric drive that would haul me and mine around for 50-75 miles per charge and have a battery pack that either lasted 130K miles or was cheap to replace every 45K miles then I’d be quite satisfied.

    Cheap car = nice car on standby for the weekend or more money to spend on our house or it’s contents.

    No, I don’t want a neighborhood electric car. I need something that is a real car that will run 60 mph safely in all weather just like that 80′s Rabbit. My ’84 Rabbit had nearly 190K miles on it when I sold it. I don’t need all the heavy safety equipment designed into the current round of cars. My ’97 Cabrio is 1K lbs heavier than my ’84 Rabbit ‘vert. I’ll take the light weight car please…

  • avatar
    Busbodger

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-d7eMT2AQKc

    I don’t get that at all. This is a smaller version of what we drove.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Piaggio_Ape

    http://www.piaggioape.co.uk/range/details_TMpanelvan/default.aspx

    According their specs the military APEs must have had the larger 125cc engine. It gets about 42 mpg. 40 mph. ~$8500 at current exchange rates. YOW!

    The ZAP Zebra seems to be an updated version of the classic (?) Piaggio Ape…

    I still want either four or two wheels. Three is just a bad compromise.

  • avatar

    “I think we Americans are really going to have to face reality if gasoline prices continue to climb. Maybe folks will burn gas to look prestigious just like they drive $40K vehicles they can’t afford now”

    Amen, to that statement.

  • avatar
    Bancho

    busbodger :

    See the other article posted in the news here. The sister car (4dr hatchback) to the $11000 vehicle depicted here sells for >$2500 elsewhere. At *that* price it’s fine, at the price Zap is asking, it’s beyond a ripoff and well into the realm of insanity.

  • avatar
    fellswoop

    FWIW, Tesla has put out a P.R. saying that they started production of their car, finally.

    http://www.teslamotors.com/blog2/?p=57

  • avatar
    energyscholar

    I read this review and the associated comments, and had to have my say.

    First, in the interest of full disclosure, I’ll say that I own a Xebra and use it daily. I acknowledge that it’s a cardboard cheese box on wheels. It’s definitely NOT a ‘real car’. I put about 500 miles per month on mine. I use it for moving around town in situations where a bicycle is not adequate. I do not, and will never, own a car.

    Second, I have an extensive background in Physics with a specialty in Global Energy Resources. For those of you who don’t already get it, we (Industrial Civilization) are in Big Trouble. Google ‘Peak Oil’ or ‘die-off’ for details. The age of the automobile is nearly over. I have no illusions that using an electric car will do anything to prevent the impending collapse of our intertwined complex systems.

    Third, I’m a lifelong transportation cyclist. I’ve bought, built, and used every type of bicycle useful for practical transportation. I chose to live in Corvallis, Oregon, largely because it is very ‘bicycle friendly’. I currently own and use several electric and recumbent bikes. I swore an oath I would never own a car.

    OK, with that said (stuff which must seem pretty alien and weird to people interested in cars), here’s what I want to add to this discussion.

    1. You can actually buy a Xebra. I am not aware of any other enclosed electric vehicle, that carries multiple people, and that can exceed 25 mph, for even TRIPLE the cost. It rains in Oregon, a lot. There are LOTS of ‘alternative vehicles’ that will be available ‘in the future’, but hardly any one can actually buy RIGHT NOW.

    2. It’s a BIG upgrade from a bicycle. I can move multiple people, in heavy rain, at night, across distances that are not practical by bicycle.

    3. It’s an enclosed motorcycle, not a car. Zap! obviously did this to get around the $100 million ‘barriers to entry’ that make it nearly impossible to market a new car for anyone besides the big five automakers. And they (the ‘big five’) seemingly cut a deal with the oil industry to not produce any non-gasoline-powered cars.

    4. Regarding ‘safety’ issues: Driving any kind of car is more dangerous than riding a bicycle. Cyclists experience about twice as many violent deaths per distance traveled than do drivers. However, drivers experience about ten times as many deaths from coronary heart disease than do cyclists. The positive health effects of cycling outweigh (pun intended) the additional risk of violent death by about a factor of 10x, according to the various published medical studies . Driving a Xebra is the worst of both worlds, because you don’t get the exercise from cycling, and you don’t get the protection (and risk to others!) of riding in an armored steel box. However, I bet a Xebra is still a LOT safer than an ordinary motorcycle, since it goes slower and has an enclosure.

    5. The thing is a total chick-magnet. Seriously. Much better than a puppy.

  • avatar
    Ingvar

    Yeah, Piaggio Ape, that was the name of the 3-wheeler I had. Mine was somehat illegaly modified, and did some 65-70 km/h. It trembled like hell and sounded worse… But it was fun. In the winter, you could apply the handbrake in corners and slide instead of turning.

  • avatar
    rudiger

    “It’s a simple, primitive conveyance which can boast its’ ability to keep the occupant dry.“And even that ability would seem to be questionable, given the rather fragile electrics involved. I sure wouldn’t want to take a Xebra out in the rain, let alone on a sunny day.“An individual buying this at the “bong hit” price of $11,000 for personal use really needs their head examined.“There is probably a certain amount of caché involved in rolling around in a Xebra, the same type of individualistic attitude that will surely entice many new smart fortwo buyers.

    For a few early adopters, making a bold statement, no matter how ill-advised it might actually be, means a lot, and would have no problem laying down at least $11k for a new Xebra. But I can’t imagine their numbers being much higher than the 150 trailblazing ‘pioneers’ that ZAP seems to have sold Xebras to since they began importing them from China’s Youngman Automotive.

    FWIW, I thought it was interesting that the guys that came up with the DeLorean DMC-12 (with all of it’s flaws), Lotus Engineering, are the same people that ZAP is touting as the designers of the still-on-the-drawing-board ZAP-X.

  • avatar
    i6

    “I swore an oath I would never own a car.”
    -energyscholar
    Why? And if that’s what it takes to sell a Xebra, isn’t our skepticism warranted?

  • avatar
    alpha94

    I want to see the Chevy Volt actually come close to production. I’d put one of those in my garage.

  • avatar
    Roy Achoy

    I one a ZAP PK. I live in the land of Ferraris Masaratis and Lamborginis. Newport Beach California.
    My Zap gets more atttenion that a Brunt Orange Lambo with a Naked Britney Spears on the hood.

    It is a very practical for Newport Beach as parking is a big problem. All the streets are 45 mph or less so travling at high speed is not needed.
    The Zap has enough range to drive all around during the day on a charge.

    I own a 560SL & a Chevy Capirce Estate wagon that I use when I need to go long distance or to haul 8 people. But They stay parked in the garage most of the time. I do drive them once a week to keep the batteries up.

    Due to the ZAP PK’s small size I never have a hard time finding a parking place.

    The Pick up bed allows me to take all my gear & my dinghy down to the dock If I go sailing or load up with groceries at the store.

    For my lifestyle the ZAP PK is a perfect fit. I recommend it to anyone who lives in the Newport or Balboa area.

  • avatar

    “The thing is a total chick-magnet”

    You have to be kidding.

  • avatar
    energyscholar

    Nope, not kidding. The previous poster said, “My Zap gets more attention than a Burnt Orange Lambo with a Naked Br1tney Spears on the hood.”[quote modified, see above].

    That’s pretty much my experience, too.

  • avatar
    starlightmica

    Wired Magazine has an scathing expose about Zap in their print issue that just arrived in my mailbox yesterday. Shady business practices, monthly issuing of a penny stock to keep the two leaders of the company flush in cash, expensive dealer costs that get pissed away, the Smart/Daimler lawsuit for more publicity, lots of hype about cars and just the craptastic Xebra to show for it. The Zap-X is just a press release and the Alias hasn’t had any substantial engineering work.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if Zap is toast after this.

  • avatar
    Margul

    You guys seem to be missing the point. The car runs on electricity. Thats all that matters. What does a Toyota Yaris and a Ferrari 360 have in common? A internal combustion engine. What happens if you don’t want to own a internal combustion propelled vehicle? You buy a electric vehicle. How many electric vehicles on the market hold more then one person and go over 25mph? Once, the Xebra. I don’t care if you people find it uncomfortable or a joke, it works. You people are the reason the electric car industry has to start the big fight of highway speed large electric cars. We could of had electric cars long ago but you had a standard. You NEED a car that can go 300 miles on a charge. You NEED a car that can go 120mph. You NEED a car that can seat 5 people. Anything just wont work. Thats why people buy the Xebra. Due to public demand (or lack of) of highway speed electric vehicles the current technology use of neighborhood electric vehicles is non existent.
    I’m happy with my Xebra. I drive 40miles a day and at the end of the year wanna know what I pay. 250 dollers. Thats right $250.00 a year. Anybody that can beat that well I’ll sell my Xebra. Bring it on.

  • avatar
    Busbodger

    Keep talking Margul. Am downgrading the daily transport to smaller and slower and more frugal. Don’t need much for less than 20 mile round trip commute.

  • avatar
    jaggs

    I’m a little confused when people here say that there are no electric cars for sale at the moment. Has no-one heard of the Zenn? http://www.zenncars.com/ . Check out the video.

    And here’s a dealer from their US network. The manufacturer sold 250 last year I think.

    And there’s a full speed highway model coming soon apparently.

    Interesting?

  • avatar
    energyscholar

    ******************
    How many electric vehicles on the market hold more then one person and go over 25mph? One, the Xebra.
    ******************

    The Zenn is a Neighborhood Electric Vehicle, limited to 25 mph. There may well be a Full Speed highway Model coming out sometime, but you can’t buy one now. If the Big Five automakers and the oil companies have there way, ‘sometime’ will be ‘never’.

    In the meantime, we’re stuck with a transportation system that requires large amounts of oil (mostly for internal combustian engines) just to move people around within cities, even knowing what we know about peak oil and climate change. Greed, shortsightedness, and denial seem to be the operative words of the era.

  • avatar
    DisappointedGeorgeJetson

    Man, I would LOVE to have one of these. I'd even like to have a dealership on these. I live in a college town and these babies would be selling like $3 iced lattes on the fourth of July!  I'm sorry to hear all the shortcomings… but even at that, they'd still be the soup du jour for a couple of years while real automakers catch up. Question for those in the know: CAN one (even if it happens to mutilate the warranty and bend, fold and spindle the law a bit) replace the mini-motor with something with a bit more heft and bolster the batteries with a bank or two of laptop Li-Ion hidden in the doors? Everything would have to be right off the shelf, 'cause ol' George ain't all that mechanical… but if this thing could be taken as is… for a single passenger, and made to do 50mph and, say, a sixty mile range… the thousand or so put in souping it up coul be money well spent. Thoughts? Anyone? Buehler?

  • avatar
    Jaspen

    Hi,
    I’m a single mom with limited income.
    I need a new car. I’m realizing that even if I were to keep paying the $420 at the pump, which is the price to date (up 6 cents in three days), I will not be able to afford enough gas to take my son to school, or to go to the market. So, by september, when gas gets to 5? 6? 8? 10+ dollars per gallon, what are we to do? We live 5 miles to town. It seems that a car like the Xebra would work for us. On weekends, I need to take my son to see his Dad, 18 miles away, where I would need to travel on a road that is posted at 50 mph. Again, the Xebra would enable me to do that (providing I charge it back up once I got there). I do have an older car that I can use for emergencies, but honestly, I just can’t afford to drive it anymore. Gas prices are too high.
    So, for all those who say that the Xebra is nothing more than garbage, what do you propose I do? And though noble, I’m afraid that taking a bike wouldn’t be an option. Neither is moving. Any realistic suggestions?
    Thanks so much!
    ~ Jaspen

  • avatar
    adam.neusbaum

    Thank God I arrived safely and on-time to work this morning. Certainly was nice not waiting on the side of the road with scratched paint and a broken-off side mirror anticipating the arrival of a Florida State Trooper. Unfortunately a few of my fellow commuters experienced a very different start to their day. Remember that combining the latest espresso or energy drinks with tardiness on the roadways can be a dangerous mix. Four-wheel drive crew cabs and Honda Civics don't mix well either. Not always a good idea to pass two cars at once with oncoming traffic & I'm sure the state-trooper is giving the same good advice in the form of a traffic ticket as we speak. When the dust settled I could only give a Sunday wave and move along. No doubt that I'd prefer they go ahead and pass me since it creates a nice draft for to follow but I'd like to ask ; was it really worth it? Was I really going all that slow for you? So slow that you were willing to risk an accident. Amazing how one minute I'm alone on the open road then suddenly the Nascar racing team is coming on fast. Anyone knows that you can't go three-wide when CR 475/466 has just two lanes. You see I drive an all electric Zap Xebra truck on a daily basis with a top speed averaging 40-45 mph. Some motorists don't mind hanging with me most of the way & it might be so they can see what's cruising before them, who can tell? Before the Xebra, I didn't have the turtle mentality to know that with a little patience I would cross the finish-line just behind the jack-rabbit. I'd always pass a slow poke but embarrassment would start to settle in when I'd see the turtle coming up behind me. It only turned out that I was creating a seamless path for him having raced to trigger the traffic signal just before he'd follow me thru the intersection. So I'd ask myself: Was it worth it? If I'd just stayed behind the turtle my arrival time would have been the same. There is a dividing line though or else why not only do 25 mph the whole way. There certainly is a difference between 55 & 25. For long trips greater speed reduces time driving over distance. But around town it's not so. The electric vehicle industry is striving toward transportation with fantastic horsepower but in my opinion, they can keep 'em. I'm in my own happy envelope with the limited speeds. There's no "showing off" & "road-rage" isn't in the vernacular. If I'm irritated with a fellow driver I wouldn't dare tailgate 'cause without power brakes I know it takes space to get stopped. Now I haven't started hugging trees yet but you certainly get a better perspective on life when you don't have 300 bhp @ your disposal. Besides it's not like we have an autobahn to enjoy anyhow. I consider the collateral benefits of this type of transportation. Just imagine if high-school students drove these: Maintain less interior weight & you go further which means fewer friends can accompany & influence your child at a time. Very low-speed racing {if any} & of course the efficiency with low overall expenses. If you ever find yourself following close behind me don't worry, I'll waive you around, on a curve, up a hill, on a solid double-line, we'll be sure and get you where you're going as quickly as possible but please don't take me too seriously, just relax and consider what I'm driving.

  • avatar
    Chris Jordan

    Good review, but kind of ancient. Xebras improved in 2009, oil is at $33 to $38. a barrel, but gas is still going up. Strange! The point overall is electric vehicles and economy; not a $10. radio! Mini Ellert (now the City-el) electric vehicle was built in Denmark in 1989, which eventually failed- but not before importing about 40 to California up to 1993. Gladly, I have one of the last- which takes a lot of work and costs a fortune for parts. Germany still makes these EVs but will not sell them here.

    To make a long story short – I would buy a Xebra since it is here now, parts are abundant: and the City-el showed me insurance, no smog tests, cheap operation, and low-cost registration are extremely cheap on a 3-wheel vehicle.

  • avatar
    ZAP XEBRA

    In Uruguay and Montevideo are flowing through the motor tricycles ZAP Xebra to 250c.c. Gasoline can be seen in : http:\\tricicloszap.blogspot.com

  • avatar
    cookie719

    WHY IS TRUTH ABOUT CARS NOT REPORTING ACTIONS TAKEN BY NHTSA REGARDING ZAP XEBRA

  • avatar
    cookie719

    ACCORDING TO BLOOMBERG, THEY ORDERED ZAP TO BUY THE CARS BACK AND THEY ISSUED JUNK TITLE STATUS ON ALL KNOWN VEHICLES.

  • avatar
    adam.neusbaum

    I’d love to sell mine back to them. Does the 2007. PK truck qualify. I’m surprised the ambulance chasing attorneys aren’t contacting all of us owners. You can see I’m not as enthused as I was in prior posts.

  • avatar
    Chris Jordan

    Fascinating that this appeared 4 years after my first comment. Aptera, Zenn, Tria, Eco Motos. Th!nk – - – fail fail fail fail fail. That Germen City-El never made it to the US so luckily I sold mine before it fell apart. A Xebra (right hand drive cargo PU) was advertised for sale recently. Thanks for the recall and junk status mention Cookie. I was interested, and it might be a disasterous vehicle… I do not want to gamble!


Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Subscribe without commenting

Recent Comments

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Staff

  • Contributing Writers

  • Jack Baruth, United States
  • Brendan McAleer, Canada
  • Marcelo De Vasconcellos, Brazil
  • Vojta Dobes, Czech Republic
  • Matthias Gasnier, Australia
  • W. Christian 'Mental' Ward, Abu Dhabi
  • Mark Stevenson, Canada
  • Cameron Aubernon, United States
  • J Emerson, United States