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ZAP Expands Sales of XEBRA Electric Microcar; Orders 500+ from China

ZAP’s Xebra.

ZAP is expanding the US sales of its three-wheeled, low-speed, all-electric microcar, the XEBRA. (Earlier post.) The XEBRA can seat four (maximum load 500 pounds) and has a range of up to 40 miles (65 kilometers) and a top speed of 40 mph (65 km/h). It uses a DC motor powered by a lead-acid battery pack.

The XEBRA is being shipped to more ZAP-licensed dealers and consumers. The vehicle carries a suggested retail price of less than $10,000.

ZAP will focus its marketing on government and corporate fleets, with several government, municipal and corporate fleets already evaluating the XEBRA for integration into their current gas fleet.

The company has ordered more than 500 units of the XEBRA electric microcar from China car maker Shandong Jindalu Vehicle Co. Shandong Jindalu has already delivered some 100 units, and says it has the capacity to produce 1,000 units per month.

ZAP has an exclusive 10-year distribution contract with Shandong Jindalu to market the XEBRAs through its ZAP brand network of authorized sales and service centers.

Under the strategic business relationship, ZAP has permanent offices at the factory in Dezhou to continue research and development of new vehicle models and concepts, and to assist in the manufacturing process.

Miles ZX40

Separately, Miles Automotive has begun US sales of the Qingyuan ZX40—the Happy Messenger (earlier post)—produced by TianJin QingYuan Electric Vehicle Company. The $15,000 ZX40 offers a top speed of 25 mph and a range of 40 miles. It uses a 4kW motor from First Auto Works in China, powered by a lead-acid battery pack.

Miles Automotive promises to unveil a more robust EV from China late in 2007—:the XS200. The XS200 reportedly will use Li-ion batteries, have a top speed of 80 mph and range of 200 miles, and cost $28,500.


Tim Russell

Robert, thanks for the smile that Reliant Robin got beaten up on by the Mini of Mr. Bean.

I didn't see it when skimming the comments but a 3 wheeled vehicle is counted as a motorcycle under current vehicle regs and as such doesn't have to meet safety regs. Add another wheel and you gotta meet all the safety regs. This adds several hundred pounds of vehicle weight sapping range from an electric or MPG from small gas cars. Here's to hoping for a breakthrough on the cost of lightweight materials, batteries etc. for cars that will solve that problem.


Bit off topic but is anyone old enough and watched enough TV to remember an episode of the Partridge family
where there was an eccentric older woman who drove an electric car?

I remember it as being seen as very difficult to drive of course. I would like to see that episode again some day cause we might find that Who killed the electric car? The Partridge Family!

Anna Haynes

Long, detailed article on the Tesla here (reprinted from SNS) -

"...overarching purpose of Tesla is to help expedite the move from a mine-and-burn hydrocarbon economy towards a solar electric economy
The strategy of Tesla is to enter at the high end of the market, where customers are prepared to pay a premium, and then drive down market as fast as possible to higher unit volume and lower prices with each successive model.
[and plenty more]


Three-wheel configurations are stable as follows: a) One steered wheel in front, two powered wheels in rear. b) Two steered wheels in front, one powered wheel in rear. Both of these configurations have been widely used in microcars in the UK, Europe, and Asia since the early 20th century.

Three-wheel configurations that are steered from the rear are not stable, however are highly useful for lowspeed operations where tight turning radius is critical e.g. fork lifts, road sweepers, etc.

Compare the Zap Xebra to other neighborhood electric vehicles. They typically have top speed of 25 mph and range of 20 miles, no doors or fabric doors or at best plastic doors w/o locks. They typically have limited seating & storage capacity, and cost $15,000 - 25,000. The Xebra is faster & has better range, has conventional doors with locks, and has seating for 4 plus decent storage (and if I'm not mistaken, the rear seats can be folded down so you can seat two up front and carry a decent load of bulky stuff in the back). And the price is $5k - $15k less. So compared to other local-driving electrics, the choice is obvious: Zap is a winner.

I would buy a Xebra in two seconds if I had a place to park the additional vehicle. I log my miles for business reasons so I know the ranges I need, and the Xebra would work for @ 75% of my driving. The other @ 25% requires freeway speeds & range of @ 150 miles minimum, and includes client site emergencies at odd hours that are not amenable to a quick last-minute car rental. On the other hand, this might be viable with membership in a Car Share organization for access to vehicles for freeway trips.

So consider this possibility: You have a small electric car for local trips, e.g. Zap or similar. You use public transport if you commute to work. And you belong to a Car Share co-op for the times you need vehicles with higher speeds, more carrying capacity, and longer ranges. The point of all this, after all, is to have practical transportation without trashing the planet, and it seems to me that this combination works well.

Stephen Van Scoyoc

An interesting discussion. I just acquired a Ligier Ambra which, except for range, is similar in speed and size to an electric. I use it to travel to the nearby village and neighboring villages of up to 20 mile roundtrip. Surprisingly, I have found it satisfactory. There are only short stretches where one might speed up to the national limit, but in fact they are limited by traffic when they reach the end. I think many drivers would be surprised to find that 45mph is not much of a limitation. We do have a Golf Ecomotic for longer trips, but usually opt for the train. One other thing--don't believe the sales pitches about speed. Coming up out of the Dartford tunnel made it painfully obvious that 45 on level ground means about 25 up a steady grade. In any event, 100mpg (slightly less with the bio-diesel we make), less waste oil (1.6 litres instead of 4), smaller tyres (remoulds at that), everything is smaller and thus consumes less. The whole car can be recyled. It is a step toward the future and the one I imagined as a kid. (If you ignore that it's like a Motel T in shiny paint, it's very cool).

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