Zapping Gas Prices With A Three-Wheeled Electric Vehicle, A Zipcar And A Bike

Zap Xebra photo

My friend Carey is a single Portland, Oregon mom with a mortgage, a short commute to a full-time job and two school-age daughters. That translates to a fairly mainstream transportation need. She's also my choice for TreeHugger of the week because as of about two months ago she finally found a way to mothball her Honda and get off the gas roller coaster ride by buying a Zap three-wheeled electric vehicle.

Part of a personal transportation network
Carey is nothing if not pragmatic. She surveyed the small playing field. Of the five electric vehicles currently for sale, Zap seemed the best choice. If she was going to plonk down $11,700 for a Zap Xebra electric sedan, it did not have to meet her every transport need, but it did need to fulfill some criteria. The family of three had to comfortably fit in it, along with at least a few bags of groceries. The Xebra had to make it to her academic job and back on a single charge, and it had to be both fast enough to feel part of neighborhood traffic and safe enough for her teenager to learn to drive with (as the Zap is not classified as a low-speed vehicle, it can go beyond the 25 mph of those low-speed alternatives - going up to about 40 mph). After two months of getting to know her Zap, Carey has been satisfied...and even unexpectedly surprised.For what she has found is that roughly ninety percent of her driving needs can reasonably be met by the Xebra. For the other 10 percent, she has three options - she can ride her bike, she can take advantage of Portland's car-sharing Zipcar program, or she can even de-mothball the Honda if a long trip by car is necessary.

Electric vehicle love
Alex Campbell, marketing communications coordinator at Zap said that many of their customers are finding a similar pattern - even if they have a gas car they no longer want to use it after getting an electric vehicle.

"We've got the Alias coming, it's our next car to be a bit more appealing to the mainstream, and we're even working on a four, wheel passenger car. But what we have found being in this business for a while is that an electric vehicle is not for everyone, so we're pretty careful about telling people to try before they buy. The main thing is for people to start examining what they really need in terms of transport."

Perhaps one reason electric car vehicle owners like Carey find themselves less and less willing to go back to a gas-driven choice is that there's still a lot of novelty value to be gotten from driving the bright-colored, slightly funny-looking three-wheeled Xebra. People stop and stare, and point, and chuckle, she says. They seem to be getting almost as much fun out of seeing her driving it as she gets out of driving it herself. Via ::Zapworld

Read more:
Electric Car Revolution Only Three Years Away (Maybe)
Introducing the BYD E6 Electric Car

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