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BWC High-Mileage Review

The Zap Xebra:

The All-Electric Vehicle with Its Own Distinct Personality

Ya Think the Guys from Stryper Drive this Car?


The all-electric Zap Xebra is kind of like Christian heavy metal music: either you really love it or you really hate it. Zero emissions, a fill-up cost of as little as 35 cents, and a price tag of $11,700 are all great. These positives, however, are offset by sometimes shoddy workmanship, top speed and range that fall below manufacturer claims, and a low safety rating.

The “good/bad” dichotomy repeats itself when one looks at the Xebra’s environmental impact. We don’t have the info on the specific factories that produce the Xebra, but generally speaking, factory conditions in China are anything but eco-friendly, and workers are usually neither treated nor compensated well. Anti-environmental production conditions are, most likely, more than offset over the car’s lifetime thanks to its light carbon footprint. The Xebra requires no fuel whatsoever. Just plug it into a standard household outlet and let it charge up. Even after counting emissions from electric plants, Xebra sedans produce 98% fewer pollutants than gas cars. Additionally, you can opt for a rooftop solar panel to replace 17% of the charge, which extends your range by about 5 miles and further lessens the amount of electricity you need from your local utility.

The Xebra was designed with three wheels to get around the federal crash safety test regulations. Anything with less than four wheels is considered a motorcycle by law. That may not inspire a lot of confidence, but with a top speed of 40 mph (oftentimes less), you really don’t need the highest level of crash protection.

If you’re expecting this car to be your only mode of transportation you’re going to be disappointed. You’re also going to be disappointed if you expect it to run as well as your Honda Civic.

The Zap Xebra works best as a second car, used for short trips close to home. Driving to the store, to work (if it’s nearby and you don’t need to take a highway), or to your weekly depilatory appointment, these are all within this car’s ability.

We recommend test-driving a Xebra as thoroughly as possible before purchasing. This will hopefully help you avoid a lemon. Poor quality control during the manufacturing process in China means that your odds of getting a car with “problems” are higher.

Many Xebra owners are gadget-savvy and don’t view their little electric cars as finished products when they drive them home. Instead, they think of their Xebra as a “base” car that is meant to be modified and improved by at-home tinkering. This is a healthy and realistic attitude that will add years to the lives of these Xebra owners and save them thousands of dollars in anger management classes and therapy fees.

Some have also pointed out that the Xebra could also make a great first car for teenagers because it has limited range, a limited top speed, it’s cheap, and needs very limited maintenance.

Zap offers the Xebra in both sedan and pickup truck versions.

Things People Like About the Xebra:

- Zero emissions!

- Doesn’t run on fossil fuel

- Costs less than a dollar to “fill the tank”

- Comes in strange colors, including black and white “zebra stripes”

- Its motorcycle designation makes it cheaper to register than a “regular” car

- You can get on the ferry before the cars

- You can park in motorcycle parking places

- You can opt for a solar panel that extends the range of the car’s batteries and shortens recharge time

- You can lane-split in some states, which moves you through traffic faster

- An engine with no moving parts means you never have to go to Jiffy Lube for an oil change and fewer things that can break

Things People Don’t Like About the Xebra:

- Its Chinese manufacturing isn’t always up to the highest standards

- Definitely no frills when it comes to options

- Can’t drive it on the highway

- Its motorcycle designation means it doesn’t have to pass US safety tests

- Cramped interior

Official Stats:

- Speed: Up to 40 mph (65 kmph)

- Range: Up to 25 miles per charge (40km)

- Charger: Onboard 110 Volt AC

- Motor: DC

- Seating: Up to 4 (303 lbs.)

- Battery: Lead Acid

- Classification: 3-wheel motorcycle (Zero Emission Vehicle)

- Dimensions: 10’ Length (290 cm) x 4.66’ Width (142 cm) x 5.05’ Height (154 cm)

- Weight: approx. 1,441 lbs

- Gross Vehicle Weight: approx. 2,805 lbs

- Options: Upgraded Radio/CD, Color, Leather Seats, Car Cover, Upgraded Batteries

- Colors: Ocean Blue, Zebra Flash, Kiwi Green, and Lipstick Red

- MSRP: $11,700

Recall Information:

None. This is a good thing.








This page was created 06-17-2008, however the content may have been pre-existing on a different page.