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Why we like the documentary “What is the Electric Car?”

December 7, 2010 2 comments
The ZAP Xebra comes as an electric car or an electric truck.

Electric car owner Ginny Medeiros works for ZAP electric vehicles in Santa Rosa, California.

We enter an historic time with real, mainstream electric cars poised to come to market.  Still, there seems to be a great deal of confusion and controversy around them, which is one reason why we like the new documentary premiering in Hollywood on December 14, “What is the Electric Car?” but not the only reason.

ZAP employees and visitors to the Detroit Auto Show with the ZAP Alias electric car.

Ginny at the 2010 Detroit Auto Show.

NEW!Slide Show from Premiere

We really like “What is the Electric Car?” because our very own Ginny is one of the stars of the film.  Yes, THE Virginia (Ginny) Scales-Medeiros, mother of two, entrepreneur, inventor, auto maven and electric car proponent extraordinaire.

The story of how Ginny earned a role in the documentary “What is the Electric Car?” is somewhat ironic.  Ginny is perhaps the most outgoing, gregarious person we work with, and the perfect person to help represent ZAP for its Detroit Auto Show debut.  2010 was the very first year that Detroit’s North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) hosted a display dedicated to electric cars called “Electric Avenue.” ZAP was invited to display its Alias electric car in Detroit as part of the lead-up to the Progressive Insurance Automotive X PRIZE.

Now, working an auto show is tough, but Detroit is a doozy, running for two weeks.  We were confident in Ginny though, and naturally she came out a champ, fielding inquiries for ZAP, helping make valuable connections and introducing ZAP to Motor City. It was during the show that we met up with Scott duPont, Cam MacGregor, and Ken Grant, producers from the documentary “What is the Electric Car?” walking around the show gathering material for the up-coming film. He came by the X PRIZE booth and arranged an interview with ZAP executive Eric Peterson who also appears in the documentary.  He gave them a quick update on the company and the ZAP Alias and they were off to meet with other electric car experts and we thought that was the end of it.

Little did we know, the producers were on a quest to find “real electric car owners.”  There were a host of people representing electric cars at the Detroit Auto Show, but only a very few who actually owned one and used it on a daily basis.  Leave it to Ginny to find this out, not on the show floor, but during the complimentary continental breakfast at the Holiday Inn, Detroit.

Ginny Medeiros in her electric pickup truck.

Ginny Medeiros drives only her electric truck.

According to Ginny, she remembers walking out of the elevator still wearing her pajamas and feeling embarrassed when she noticed Scott duPont wearing his usual smart, show-biz attire.  She was eating breakfast and it was somewhat busy, but she overheard duPont saying he was looking for someone who actually drives an electric car, and being Ginny, she spoke up immediately.

“I drive an electric car,” she interjected.

You probably had to be there, but she laughs when she remembers the look the producers gave her.

“They looked at me in my pajamas like I just got out of bed with this expression, as if to say, ‘Yeah, right.’  They must have thought I was one of those groupies who will say anything to get a part in a movie.”

“You mean you’ve driven one?” duPont asked.

“‘No, I have nothing else but an electric car.’ I could tell they were skeptical at first.  But I told them my whole story.”

Ginny told the producers all about how she started driving an electric car. She was just winding down from promoting her own product and was offered a job by ZAP’s CEO Steve Schneider who had worked with her in the past and had known her for over 20 years. In 2007, she started checking out the Xebra truck and tried a lease on one from ZAP.  She was also driving a Mercedes S Class, but quickly realized she could save a lot of money by driving electric while meeting 95% of her daily driving, putting 600-800 miles per month in it.  She also checked out PG&E’s E-9 Meter Program for electric car owners, which helps her get a discount on her utility bill.  One of the perks of having the E-9 meter is that she is charged a lower rate during off peak hours and she estimates saving $100 or more a month on her overall utility bill.  Subtract that from her lease and insurance, she estimates the Xebra is only costing her about $20 a month with the savings from the E-9 program. The insurance is so much less because the Xebra is classified as a low-speed motorcycle.  She realized she could rent a gas car if she needed to take an extended trip, but even if she rented a car three times a month, it was still cheaper than the Mercedes, which she estimates was costing about $1,000 a month.

The ZAP Xebra next to an S Class Mercedes

A ZAP Xebra and Mercedes S Class.

“This has become my main message to people about switching to an electric car,” says Ginny. “It’s fun helping people learn about electric cars and I also educate businesses when I drive around Santa Rosa and ask to plug in.  People say, ‘How much is that going to cost me?’  When I reply, ‘Maybe 15 cents,’ they do a double-take, but when I show them how my old Mercedes was costing me $1,000 per month and a ZAP Xebra only $20 a month, they really start to get it.  Also, I tell people that they don’t have to wait for electric cars; there are many affordable electric vehicles already on the market.  That’s my main message.”

At this point, duPont was probably realizing that he had found what he was looking for, and an even rarer breed at that, someone that only drove an electric car. He asked for photos and video of Ginny with her electric car. He asked if he could see copies of her PG&E utility bill and information about the E-9 meter.  He asked if he came to visit, would she show him her electric car.

Recently we learned that Ginny has a prominent role in the film, which includes some 50 electric car owners with their stories.  With the film due to premier in Hollywood next week, Ginny is excited that she will be appearing, partly from a personal standpoint in educating people about electric transportation, but also because it helps ZAP.

“I’m proud to be a part of ZAP.  I love living a simple, healthy lifestyle and ZAP has helped me accomplish this.  I love being an entrepreneur, educating people about a better way to drive and making a difference for society.  Working for ZAP let’s me do all that, and drive electric cars. It’s fun!”

One of our employees, Jeff Gettys, caught the preview screening last month and said it was great.  The rest of us are looking forward to seeing it, not to mention Ginny, who is planning on attending the Hollywood Premier on Tuesday, December 14, 2010 at the Historic Lloyd E. Rigler Theatre at the Egyptian at 6712 Hollywood Blvd.  Ginny hasn’t stopped there.  Now, she is talking to the producers about holding a showing of “What is the Electric Car?” in ZAP’s home town of Santa Rosa.  Stay tuned, and please support the wonderful makers of the documentary by visiting the Official Website at http://www.whatistheelectriccar.com/ for ticket and DVD sales.

And don’t forget.  If you use Facebook, you can enter to win a 100% electric car that will be given away December 14 simply when you ‘Like’ the Fan Page for “What is the electric car?”

Zapino Electric Scooter Earns Rave Reviews

October 26, 2010 5 comments
Classic style with advanced electric vehicle technology

The ZAPINO electric scooter is practical and fun.

150 MPGe or higher?  It’s possible with electric scooters and if you’re shopping around, “just about everyone seems to like the Zapino electric scooter by ZAP,” writes Metaefficient.com, which reviewed a dozen different models.

“Style conscious… a touch of Italian élan,” say CNN and AOL Autos. A “hefty steed,” writes others, with “advanced” wheel motor technology, some zoom for “speed demons” with “great storage,” and a “cheap price tag.”

TIME, CNN, AOL Autos, Sierra Club, San Francisco Examiner, Metaefficient, TreeHugger, Sprig, GreenHomeHuddler, customers, dealers and more have all named the Zapino among the top electric scooters.

See video of the Zapino in action on YouTube.com

There are more powerful electric vehicles on two wheels out there; Vectrix is more motorcycle-like with a much higher price tag.  Less expensive scooters like eGo with its lightweight, bicycle-like design just doesn’t have that “Quadrophenia” look of the Zapino.

The Zapino is available from ZAP, a company that has been in a pioneer in electric scooters, cars, trucks, ATVs and other vehicles since 1994, with more than 100,000 delivered.  So, not only is the Zapino the choice of the experts, media and electric scooter buyers, it’s backed by an experienced supply chain and a network of knowledgeable dealers, sales and service technicians.

If you want to really go green, save green and look cool doing it, the Zapino seems to be the scooter of choice.  Read all the reviews available online below.

PERFORMANCE:

“This motor is so powerful it can win drag races against gas scooters, with speed and acceleration that leaves the polluters in their own dust.” — Metaefficient.com

“The most powerful scooter in its class.” – TreeHugger,

“Best suited for darting around city traffic.” — Sierra Club Magazine

“I raced it against some 50 cc gas scooters and the Zapino beat them off the line.” — Baker M. of Colorado.

STYLE

“Style Concious…” — CNN

“A touch of Italian élan.” – AOL autos

The storage case for the ZAPINO electric scooter

The ZAPINO electric scooter has plenty of storage

FUNCTIONALITY

“Nice storage areas for grocery runs.” — Metaefficient.com

ADVANCED TECHNOLOGY

“EV companies tend to focus on advanced batteries or quick-charging, but I believe wheel motors have been the biggest breakthrough.” — Gary Starr, ZAP Founder, More Info: Click Here

“The hub motor in the rear wheel creates more room on-board for additional batteries… eliminates the need for belts, or chains, resulting in a more enjoyable ride with less vibration and noise, and a smoother acceleration.” — Metaefficient.com

ENERGY EFFICIENCY

“While today’s gasoline and diesel engines utilize less than 50 percent of their available energy, wheel hub motors are projected to use up to 96 percent of the provided electrical energy for vehicle propulsion” – GreenCar.com

ECONOMY

Electric scooters cost about one-third to fuel versus gas.  ZAP estimates a full charge for the Zapino at 25 cents, which means it cost about a penny a mile to fuel.  A gas scooter can get about 85 MPG, which equates to about three cents per mile. – Source: Motor Scooter Muse

RELIABILITY

“The hub motor in the rear wheel… eliminates the need for belts, or chains… reducing overall maintenance.” — Metaefficient.com

“Hefty steed,” Sprig.com

ENVIRONMENTAL SAFETY

“Notably, even if BEVs (battery electric vehicles) are recharged with electricity from power plants that use fossil fuels, they are up to 99 percent cleaner than conventional vehicles and can cut global warming emissions by as much as 70 percent. — Union of Concerned Scientists

PRICE

“The Zapino is a big jump ahead and a whole new market for this company. Given it’s relatively cheap price tag for what it’s offering, I expect these to get fairly popular.” – zoomiscooters

Sources:

Metaefficient.com Zapino

Metaefficient.com All

CNN.com / AOL Auto

Time Magazine mention for Zapino

Sierra Club Magazine

Treehugger.com

GreenCar.com

Union of Concerned Scientists

Scooter Economy

Mayor Uses ZAP Electric Fleet Truck in Annual ‘Commuter Race’

May 11, 2010 Leave a comment
Watsonville Mayor Tests Commute in ZAP Electric Fleet Truck

City of Watsonville Mayor in ZAP Electric Fleet Truck

Santa Cruz Sentinel 5-11-2010

WATSONVILLE — The Santa Cruz County Commuter Race was held during rush hour in Watsonville Monday, where three community members competed against each other on various forms of alternative transportation. Watsonville Mayor Luis Alejo, who drove a ZAP electric truck in the race, said that he was excited to see the different forms of alternative transportation in action.

Participants in the three-mile race were required to stop off at three Watsonville businesses to simulate running errands during Watsonville’s heavy 4 p.m. traffic.  The Commuter Race began at the Nature Center behind Ramsay Park, amidst light rain showers, and wound through busy Watsonville streets, ending at the gazebo in the middle of the City Plaza. The event, staged by Ecology Action, a Santa Cruz nonprofit, helped kick off the 23rd annual Santa Cruz County Bike Week, which runs through Saturday.

“This is a great event,” Alejo said. “It’s a cost-friendly way to get around. It promotes exercise for locals. Here in Watsonville, we have a lot of bike-friendly roads. We’d like to see a lot more people using alternative forms of transportation in the future.”

Read More in the Santa Cruz Sentinel:

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