Zapworld.Com EVs Used in California Energy Commission Demonstration

November 14, 2000 by Jeff Shepard

Seven 25mph electric cars hit the road this fall in the Northern California wine country town of Sebastopol as part of a project to demonstrate the use of such cars for downtown deliveries, running errands and shuttling tourists.

The $120,000 project was co-funded by the California Energy Commission (Sacramento, CA) and a public-private partnership made up of three local entities: the City of Sebastopol, the Holiday Inn Express Hotel and Suites, and Zapworld.Com (ZAP, Sebastopol, CA). ZAP uses the electric cars to shuttle employees and parts between its five locations within the city limits. The cars are part of a new federal “Neighborhood Electric Vehicle" category created to encourage the use of zero-emission vehicles for inner-city use. Smaller than traditional cars, they are still required to have automotive-grade headlights, seatbelts, windshields, brakes and other safety equipment. With a top speed of 25mph, the cars can only be used on streets with a posted 35mph speed limit.

Sebastopol was chosen for the grant partly because it is on a busy tourist route and exposes a large number of people to the new type of electric car, according to Peter Villanueva, Energy Analyst for the California Energy Commission. “Electric is the way to go," said Villanueva. “The more we can be involved in these real-world applications of electric vehicles the better."