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Zero Air Pollution — ZAP!

Dorothy Talan-Quaid

Like everyone else, I’ve been watching the price of gasoline increase, wondering just how high it will go before leveling out. I remember when it cost me $20 to fill my car’s gas tank and that wasn’t all that long ago. Now it costs me $45 and I feel lucky it’s not more!

While heading down the hill for this story, I cringed as I passed gas station after gas station, all listing a gallon of unleaded at $4.13 and up. With those prices still spinning around in my head, it made perfect sense that I was going to check out electric cars that use no gasoline at all.

Electric Car Living, located in Rocklin, is owned by Miki DeZorzi, a young mother who was looking for a way to combine motherhood and earning a living when she bought Golf Carts of Lincoln in 2007. “I thought ‘what a great thing I could do (with) a small, family-owned company, kids can come to work with me, they think it’s neat, it’s good for the environment, it’s not selling something that’s going to hurt the environment, it’s a good lesson for my kids’,” said DeZorzi.

As gas prices started to hit record highs, DeZorzi decided to look into alternative modes of transportation beyond golf carts and gated communities. She researched a compared a number of electric vehicles, finally settling on the ZAP product line. ‘What caught me was that they go 40 miles an hour and their price is so reasonable,” DeZorzi said. “What they stand for themselves is what I wanted my company to stand for.”

ZAP, an acronym for Zero Air Pollution, is a Santa Rosa, California-based company “committed to running its business based on a strong philosophical foundation that supports the environment, social responsibility and profitability”, according to its website, http://www.zapworld.com. The company has assembled a complete line of products to meet the growing demands of the environmentally conscious consumer that includes electric vehicles. DeZorzi introduced the Zap Xebra (pronounced ‘zebra’), which is made in China, to the community last Friday at her new showroom in Rocklin.

The three-wheeled Xebra comes in two styles: a sedan and a pickup truck. Both vehicles can reach speeds of up to 40mph and travel 25 miles on a full, one-hour charge, which is the feature that caught DeZorzi’s eye. “I brought them on, basically, to be able to help the environment and help people’s pocketbooks,” she said. The truck also has an extended battery accessory option that allows it to travel 40 miles on a full charge. Both vehicles come with a heater and radio installed. Upgrades include leather seats, CD player, car covers and a covered bed for the pickup model.

It’s difficult to accurately compare operations cost between the Xebra and a gasoline-powered vehicle but, after taking into account the cost of electricity and emissions from electric-generating plants versus the cost of gas, oil, fluids and other maintenance costs, ZAP rates the operating cost of a Xebra at 2-3 cents per mile as compared to an average gasoline-powered vehicle rate of 15-20 cents per mile. The Xebra plugs into any three-pronged, 110v outlet, takes 6-8 hours to fully charge and even comes with a solar panel option for additional charging ability, as well as a fast charge option.

Some communities, such as Lincoln and Santa Rosa, have fully embraced electric vehicles as part of their driving culture and Rocklin is planning to join that growing list. DeZorzi says electric vehicle drivers get preferred parking and plug-ins at Roseville’s Galleria and many cities offer free charging hookups for electric vehicles at various locations in their respective communities. PG&E offers a special rate and a separate meter to electric car users that further reduces the cost of operation.

Even the State of California is jumping on the electric car bandwagon, offering a $1000 tax rebate on the purchase of a ZAP Xebra through the California Air Resources Board. To receive a rebate, vehicles must be ARB qualified and pass a range and speed course as well as comply with all federal motor vehicle safety standards, and meet a minimum manufacturer warranty: the Xebra met all of the criteria. Currently ZAP and Electric Car Living are offering bumper-to-bumper one year warranties and ZAP offers extended warranties at an additional cost.

I drove the sedan last Friday and the first thing I noticed is that the car makes no sound Ð nothing at all. Only the dash lights indicating that the brake and the radio were on let me know that the car was ready to drive. The transmission is engaged by pushing the right dash button; forward, neutral or reverse. It’s a little like driving a golf cart and a bit noisy inside Ð there’s no real insulation in the body panels Ð but it took the turns well and got up to speed in a decent amount of time. I particularly liked the pickup model, which also comes with flatbed or dumping capabilities.

The ZAP Xebra registers with DMV as a motorcycle because of its three-wheeled design but doesn’t require a motorcycle license to operate it. Right now DeZorzi is offering both Xebra models at a price below MSRP. The basic sedan is currently priced at $10,600 and the pickup costs $10,800; both will have an additional destination charge added of $200. There are a variety of options available at additional cost, such as the extended battery system for the truck ($1500). Purchases are credit-union approved, says DeZorzi, who is in the process of making that purchasing power available through her dealership. All service and maintenance can be done on-site at a given location or, if necessary, at the dealership.

More information about Electric Car Living is available at http://www.electriccarliving.com or by calling 916-645-250. The dealership, which sells a number of ZAP products as well as golf carts, is located at 6839 Five Star Blvd. in Rocklin, across from Comfort Suites. Information about ZAP and its complete line of products, including an upcoming freeway-capable electric vehicle, the Alias, is available at http://www.zapworld.com.

NASCAR Notes: Kyle Busch missed an early wreck at Dover that involved a number of Cup drivers who could have challenged Busch for the win last Sunday at Dover International Speedway. Busch leads the Sprint Cup points race with four wins so far this season. Denny Hamlin won the Nationwide race on Saturday and Scott Speed (cool name for a racer!) won the Craftsman Truck race, both races also run at Dover.

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