Zap (ZAAP) rolled into the MacWorld exhibitor’s hall with a souped up version of its all-electric three-wheeled Xebra, complete with helicopter rotor, flux capacitor, and iPod dock. Zap has announced that they will soon be making all of their electric cars iPod and iPhone compatible. This was the first MacWorld for the 14-year old electric vehicle maker.
“We have better luck at things like MacWorld than at car shows,” Alex Campbell, Zap Director of Communications admitted. “When you go to the car shows its like preaching to the choir.” Linking Zap with the Apple customer base just makes sense, Campbell said, stressing that lifestyle events like MacWorld could better connect a broad base of consumers with their product than the Detroit Auto Show.
Last week Zap launched a new promotion for its Xebra, offering free electricity for the vehicle. While ZAP is one of the older electric car companies out there, like many of the new electric vehicle makers it has yet to turn a profit. In 2006 the company lost $11.9 million, better than the $23.5 million it lost the previous year. Meanwhile sales are increasing – $10.83 million in 2006, up from $3.60 million the year before.
Zap was simultaneously evangelizing their “zero air pollution” (ZAP!) vehicles while selling their Recharge-It-All, a series of portable rechargeable lithium battery packs designed to give your gadgets extra juice on the go. It might seem odd for a car company to be directly marketing a small, auxiliary consumer electronic but “the opportunity was a byproduct of working with a lot of battery companies,” according to Campbell.
However, the company thinks there is more to dabbling in consumer electronics than just lithium-powered convenience. “iZap is about branding,” Campbell said. While the domestic auto industry sputters into the twenty first century, consumer electronics are an increasingly important part of our lives. Connecting and integrating a high-tech car with the sleek branding machine of Apple could be an important step in auto marketing. And hopefully, for Zap’s case, will help it sell more vehicles and turn a profit.
Oh, and in case you were wondering, that demo car with the bleeping and blinking lights still has all of its inner automotive workings and is street legal, faux flux capacitor and all. (More photos over at AutoblogGreen.)