ZAP: Free Power with Electric Car

xebra12ZAP, the electric car and scooter maker, is sweetening the fuel-saving deal of its vehicles. The company is offering a free year of electric juice for new orders of its three-wheeled Xebra between now and Valentine’s Day. With each purchase, the Santa Rosa, Calif.-based company will include a “Kill-A-Watt Smart Power Meter,” which will measure how much electricity is being used to charge the car. Customers then send that information, along with their electric bill, to ZAP — which will reimburse them.

Perhaps the deal, and ones like it, will help the company boost its bottom line. Founded in 1994, ZAP is one of the older kids on the electric vehicle block and they’ve delivered around 100,000 electric vehicles, mostly scooters and bikes but increasingly cars, ZAP Director of Communications Alex Campbell told Earth2Tech. Though for the year ended December 31 2006 the company recorded a net loss of $11.9 million. Not profitable, but substantially better than its $23.5 million loss the year earlier. Sales have been growing too, and for the year ended December 31 2006, the company recorded $10.83 million in net sales, up from $3.60 million the year before.

ZAP is looking to the international market for growth and CEO Steven Schneider specifically cites opportunities in China, Dubai, Canada and Chile in a note on the website. “We’re really trying to focus on the market in London right now,” Campbell added. The company now figures that between savings on petrol, parking and tolls plus government incentives, a Xebra in London could pay for itself within a year, as compared to a normal car.

But back at home, Americans are far less inclined to purchase smaller and slower vehicles, so ZAP is now courting U.S. corporations with delivery fleets. And if you live in Northern California, some of your holiday packages might have arrived via ZAP UPS trucks. Every holiday season UPS ups its delivery fleet by bringing older, diesel-powered trucks out of storage. This year, to help with the holiday rush, ZAP worked with UPS to test a few of their trucks. And ZAP vehicles might soon be delivering your Coca-Cola, Campbell told us.

On the consumer side, we’ll see if the free year of electricity entices any buyers. ZAP is set to debut some new iPod-related features at what is rumored to be an extremely green MacWorld this month. You’ll be able to charge up your car and your tunes at the same time.

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