That 2006 Zap Zebra electric car finally sold at that car auction yesterday for just $1,300. Hardly a king’s ransom for a car that was in very good and like new condition with just 2,854 original miles on it. Even more sobering, figuring that electric cars get the equivalent gas mileage of 100mpg, that means that this car saved just over 28 gallons of gas so far in it’s life. Wow! That really saved the planet right there.
The Zap Zebra had a MSRP of around $12,000 back in 2006. Figuring that price plus the equivalent cost of $98 for 28 gallons of gas(actually electricity), not including licensing or other costs, this car cost around $4 a mile to drive. Wow! That’s hardly economy by any standard of measure. A 2012 Ford Focus that uses gasoline only costs 0.45 cents per mile by comparison.
And this isn’t even the half of it! The Chinese-built Zap classified as a motorcycle to bypass U.S. automobile safety standards. The bodywork was extremely crude and wavy on the car body made from lightweight materials, and back seat passengers sit between a hump that clearly labeled with high voltage warnings. The tight passenger cab barely sits four in comfort. The three wheel design is probably likely to tip on a tight corner turn unless the driver takes care. A Chinese bank has heavily investing in the Zap company, keeping the company in business. The car company’s current lineup of cars still includes some electric models, but some 4 cylinder gasoline powered cars built in China also join the company lineup of cars, strongly suggesting the company is already starting to somewhat abandon it’s commitment to electric cars in favor of the more conventional form of drivetrains.
So did the Zap Zebra make air quality much cleaner? It is already a well known fact that electricity production in the U.S. is largely derived from burning nonrenewable fuels such as coal, natural gas or oil and the most air polluting industry of them all. And environmentalists have helped to close down many nuclear powered electricity plants in the U.S., which would be the cleanest and most energy efficient form of electricity production. Electricity costs have sharply increased over the years. Running just one electric heater in a home during a cold Winter may send up your electric bill by as much as $50 to $100 a month, depending on the heat setting and hours of use. The cost of recharging an electric car to travel just a few miles can be quite high as well, besides the inconvenience. The Zap had such a low charge yesterday, that it needed to be recharged just so that it could travel a 20 mile journey home to the buyer, then would need about another day of recharging once it was brought home. That would get old pretty fast. A one day wait to charge up a car just to drive a few errands so that you can bring it back home to recharge it again. You couldn’t hardly drive such a car to work. It’s too undependable and not ready on demand when you want it.
Other electric cars like the Tesla at a price tag near $100,000 offer a far better range of up as much as 240 miles on a charge. And many other newer electric cars now offer a fast 240volt 30 minute quick charge, all things that the Zap Zebra could never do.
With just 6.7 horsepower and a top speed of just 40mph, the car is hardly any performer by any standard. That’s slightly more than a 4.5hp 49cc moped, but not by very much. And that 6.7 horsepower is supposed to move 4 adults in a four door automobile like the Zap Zebra? 0-30, eventually? Don’t look for any Zap’s on the dragstrip. For performance, the Zap could have used a 150cc 10hp moped engine and would have performed a little better. With a 2cylinder motorcycle V-twin the car would have performed a lot better and still offer very good mpg.
The ZAP Zebra was a bad experiment in electric cars. A bad experiment that miserably failed. The car hardly saved the planet or saved the original buyer any money. Now a new buyer will have to live with this mess of a car.