A Highway-Ready EV for Under $30,000? Keep An Eye on the ZAP Alias



After announcing its plans to commercialize the 644-horsepower ZAP-X electric SUV, ZAP has another miracle up its sleeve. The Alias will be a zoomy two-seater with two wheels in front and one in back. The Alias will absorb a significant portion of the advanced technology that Lotus Engineering has already developed for the ZAP-X, including wheel hub motors and lithium polymer batteries. The Zap Alias is expected to go 100 miles to a charge with a top speed of 100 mph, and according to ZAP CEO Steve Schneider, the Alias will cost $30,000 or less.

Neither the ZAP-X nor the Alias have a firm release date yet, but ZAP says the Alias will become available before the X. Because it is a three-wheeler, the Alias bypasses many of the DOT regulatory hurdles that apply to a full-fledged car. (more pics after the jump)

A recent development in the battery department makes it look like ZAP might be able to make good on its ambitious claims. Recently returned from a trip to China, Schneider announces a partnership with Advanced Battery Technologies (ABT), a Beijing maker of lithium polymer batteries. Using a nano-particle that significantly increases the surface area within cells, these li-poly batteries have faster charge and discharge times, and are claimed to be more stable and safe. ZAP and ABT announced they would establish a joint battery development center in Beijing, and ZAP plans to manufacture both Lotus-designed EVs in China as well.

ZAP gave Lotus Engineering free reign to design a pair of electric cars that they themselves would like to see built. The ZAP-X is based on Lotus' Aluminum Performance Crossover (APX) demonstration vehicle that ZAP displayed at this year's National Auto Dealers' Association convention. Lotus Engineering also managed the engineering of the Tesla Roaster, which is due out next summer. ZAP has never made cars of its own, but bills itself as a leading American dealer of EVs. Most of its sales are comprised of electric scooters, ATVs, and non-highway vehicles like the XEBRA car and truck. The ZAP-X and Alias represent a major step forward for the publicly traded company that as already sunk millions into the development of these two models.::ZAP