Alameda Dealership Recharging Short Journeys by Car with Electricity

Over 200 people traveled from all around the Bay Area to visit OíConnell Electric on Webster St., on Feb. 10. Thatís the day the Bay Areaís only all-electric car dealer opened on the isle of Alameda.

Photo by Graham Claytor

Staff Report
Published: March, 2007 

These Zap electric cars are technically motorcycles, as they have three wheels Ė one in front, two in back Ė but you donít need a helmet or a motorcycle license. Anyone with a DMV license can quickly learn to drive one.

The purpose is not to replace the internal combustion family vehicles, but possibly, use them less. Most trips around town are much less than 25 miles and could easily be handled by a small electric vehicle. Thatís their niche.

These little cars come in two versions, a four-door car and pick-up truck. The range is 25 miles before a one hour recharge, and the maximum possible range is 40 miles. They operate on six 12-volt, sealed gel-cell batteries. Battery life is expected to be at least three years and is warranted for two.

Taking a test drive is a real pleasure. These things are silent, making only a soft, whirring noise as it proceeds down the street.

For all practical purposes, this vehicle handles like a regular car. Itís 10-foot frame and single front wheel make it simple to park. Acceleration is smooth and immediate all the way up to 40 mph.

The salesman said that the most frequent comment he heard questioned the cars stability on three wheels. His immediate answer to this was: Letís ride.