Sunday, March 9, 2008

Three-wheeled car in 2009

Zap to do three-wheeled car in 2009
Zap, the electric car company based in Santa Rosa, Calif., is adding another electric car to its lineup.

The three-wheeled Alias, due to go into production in 2009, will have a top speed of over 100 miles an hour and go 150 miles on a charge, according to Zap. It will sell for $30,000. The Alias will also likely come with a hybrid range extender, a small gas motor that can power the car or charge the battery.

The Alias will actually be made by a joint venture between Zap and China's Youngman Automotive Group. The company has an animated video of the prototype here. Zap said last year it planned to release a $30,000 electric car in 2009 but didn't mention at the time that it was a three-wheeler.

Zap also sells a three-wheeled low-speed electric car. (Check out the test drive here. It was a bit scary to drive, but we got noticed.)

Until recently, three-wheelers have occupied a niche of a niche of a niche. Some European companies made them back in the 1950s and '60s. And an evil villain drove one in Goldmember, the third movie in the Austin Powers trilogy.

Some three-wheelers, though, are going upscale. Venture Vehicles plans to bring three-wheeled hybrids and electric cars that would sell in the $20,000 range to the States starting next year.

Three-wheelers don't weigh as much as their four-wheeled counterparts, so they can go farther on a charge than regular electric cars. They are smaller, too, making them easier to park in cities.

Three-wheelers can also get to the market faster because they are classified as motorcycles, which means there is less safety testing. And they can be fun to drive. Venture's cars, based on a car design from the Netherlands, will tilt into turns like a motorcycle.

Zap, though, has many skeptics, and the company has many projects still in the works. It is also coming out with the Zap-X, an electric SUV later this year.

Zap, for its part, notes it is working on these projects with Group Lotus, a British car company. The Alias, in fact, grew out of the Zap-X project.

5 reasons to buy an electric car: reader comment from zappedone
5 Reasons to Buy an Electric Car
Submitted by nhayssen on Thu, 01/31/2008 - 14:52.
1. Zero Air Pollution
ZAP stands for Zero Air Pollution. We believe electricity is the fuel of the future. With electricity to power our transportation, our world can tap into renewable resources like hydroelectric, solar, wind, or geothermal power; resources that lessen our environmental footprint. Furthermore, studies show that millions of electric vehicles can recharge at night using existing surplus electrical generation; a vast, virtually untapped resource.
2. Save Gas
Gasoline is a precious natural resource and vital to the world economy. ZAP vehicles use no gasoline and require no oil changes. Using less fossil fuel can help relieve our current energy shortages while ensuring that future generations can rely on the same inexpensive, useful, petroleum products that we all take for granted.
3. Save Money
Gas keeps getting more expensive. Imagine all the money you can save by ZAPPING to work every day, rather than driving your gas vehicle. The typical electric car costs a penny per mile versus ten cents per mile with gas. Electric bikes and scooters are even less expensive. Plus, electric motors have fewer moving parts, meaning fewer trips to the mechanic. If you live close to work, you can save thousands of dollars per year by replacing your car with a ZAP bicycle.
4. Save Time
Traffic congestion and parking shortages eat away at our busy days, but a ZAP vehicle can help you save time, especially in busy urban areas. ZAP bikes and scooters slice through traffic jams and finding a place to park your ZAP neighborhood car is a snap.
5. Help the Economy
Today, the majority of USA's foreign trade deficit is attributed to imported oil. Using a ZAP vehicle will reduce our reliance on foreign oil. Furthermore, by investing in advanced transportation technologies, the USA can take the technological lead in offering energy efficient products that emerging economies around the world can use to build their own transportation infrastructures.

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