Grass Valley Pioneers |

Grass Valley Pioneers

If you read this column regularly, you learned about the ZAP Xebra electric cars and trucks and the owner of Rocklin’s ZAP dealership, Miki DeZorzi (06-06-2008). Zap is an acronym for Zero Air Pollution and the Xebra is a three-wheeled vehicle that can reach speeds of 40mph, one of the reasons DeZorzi decided to sell them.

DeZorzi emailed me a few weeks ago and said the response to my column on the ZAP vehicles has been great. Many people from Nevada County had read about her dealership and made the trip to Rocklin out of curiosity and a real desire to learn more about the ZAP line. Two of those visitors were Grass Valley’s Ev and Gus Young, who liked what they saw, went home to think about it, then returned and bought a red Xebra truck with solar charging panels.

“We live three miles from town,” Gus said of their decision to buy. “Why can’t we just use something like that to go back and forth to town? Makes perfect sense.” After a test drive, during which Gus was impressed with the truck’s performance, Ev left the decision to buy up to his wife, whom he expected to use it most often. It should be noted that Ev has some experience with electric vehicles in his past, so he wasn’t exactly a novice when it came to evaluating the Xebra, and Gus researched ZAP vehicles online before making their purchase.

They’ve been attracting attention ever since each time they drive the truck into town. “What I get the biggest kick out of are the teenagers,” Gus said. “I drive down the road and I get all these ‘yeah, way to go, wonderful car, where did you buy it’ from young people. They understand.” On a recent trip to the bank, two people exited the building, walked over to Gus and asked her all sorts of questions about the truck. “I end up being their sales person up here,” Gus quipped.

The Youngs have referred to their Xebra as ‘the Model T of the electric car’, a concept that has caught on with some of the people who have asked about the truck. Ev and Gus know about Model Ts and other antique cars: they own and have restored a number of vehicles and belong to a few car clubs, including Nevada County Porsche Owners Group and the Roamin Angels.

The only drawback to ZAP vehicles is that they slow down on uphill climbs. “I think people really need to know that,” Gus said. The Youngs use McCourtney Road on their drives into town and the hills bring their speed down to about 25mph, although they’ve reached 45mph on the downhills heading home, Ev said with a grin.

One driver happened to be behind the Youngs all the way to Raley’s on Freeman Lane. She stopped to ask them about the little truck that kept her from driving faster on a trip to the grocery store. ‘That’s the slowest truck I’ve ever been behind in my life,’ the woman told Ev. Then she said, “Why am I in such a hurry to get to Raley’s?” Ev was amused by the thought of slowing down yet another hurried driver on their way to town and possibly converting them to using electric cars.

The truck turns on a dime, Gus said, and parking is a dream. She’s also tested its performance several times. “I have done all sorts of things when I’m by myself and it is very stable,” she said. “You forget that there’s three wheels.”

The three-wheeled ZAP Xebra is still a novelty when it comes to getting insurance, according to the Youngs, who contacted several companies before finding one (Progressive) that would insure them. “Four companies that I talked to were going to investigate the fact that they thought they should be able to cover it,” Gus said,” but it just wasn’t in their program.”

They also encountered delays at DMV getting the truck titled and licensed because it is such a new type of vehicle, but those problems were also eventually solved. And there’s been a little mix-up in the state’s rebate program offered to buyers of electric vehicles, but that, too, is being corrected, they said.

They don’t mind being local pioneers for ZAP vehicles; it’s in Ev’s blood. His ancestors were pioneers, settling in Northern California well before the Donner party’s ill-fated trip over the Sierras. And they love to talk about their little red truck, so if you see them in town, stop by for a chat. You’ll be keeping Ev company while Gus shops and learning about another way to reduce your carbon footprint in Nevada County.

More information about the Rocklin ZAP dealership is available at or by calling 1-916-645-1250.

Upcoming Events: Don’t forget about the Roamin Angels Car Show at the Nevada County Fairgrounds this weekend. The $5 admission is good for both days (Sat/Sun) and kids under 12 get in free. More information is available at or by calling 1-866-432-8449.

The reality show “Pinks All Out” is filming an episode at Infineon Raceway on Saturday (test sessions on Friday). Admission for adults is $10 on Fri/$20 on Sat. and kids 12 and under get in free. More info is available by calling 1-800-870-RACE and at

It’s night racing this weekend at Richmond International Raceway for the Nationwide and Sprint Cup series. The top twelve in driver points will be set at the end of Saturday night’s Cup race, establishing the lineup for the Sprint Cup’s Chase to the Championship, which begins next weekend at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

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