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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?”

ZAP Electric Truck Delivering Ice at the Air Show

August 25, 2010 Leave a comment

It’s 100 degrees out at the annual air show this past Sunday. I’m walking around dying from thirst and all the lines for refreshments are prohibitively long, when I notice this red pickup truck pulling up to a vendor that seems shut down.

It’s the ZAP Xebra electric truck filled with ice and they proceed to unload a couple of ice chests and the vendor is back in business. Luckily I had my iPhone and snapped this quick video. Then I had an ice cold water!

It’s always a treat to be out and about and find someone using a ZAP electric vehicle that you didn’t expect. All throughout the show I noticed a wide variety of different vehicles at work. Some of the golf carts used by management were electric, but there were also several annoyingly loud and smelly gas utility vehicles delivering supplies or collecting garbage that in my humble opinion should not be used at events where there are large gatherings of people. They sound like tractors and you can’t hear when they drive by leaving behind a cloud of exhaust.  I was almost thinking this when suddenly the ZAP truck appeared!

This is a great move by the vendors at the Air Show. Electric trucks like this are now available, larger and with many more options. Hopefully more event organizers will realize how much better they are for airports, air shows and large events.

If you ever get a chance, visit the Pacific Coast Air Museum. They organize the annual Wings Over the Wine Country, Sonoma County’s annual Air Show every August at the Charles M. Schulz Sonoma County International Airport (STS). It really is a blast, but wear plenty of sunscreen and show up early to park your folding chair under a vacant airplane wing and you will be in for a great show.

And to whomever decided to use the ZAP truck to deliver ice… I owe you a cold one!

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