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Hey Look, It's A ZAP Xebra

Illustration for article titled Hey Look, Its A ZAP Xebra
Photo: Bradley Brownell

Yesterday evening my wife and I broke shelter-in-place to run out and grab some to-go burgers and shakes from a great local spot that was still operating from a pickup window. And what should I see out of the corner of my eye? A freakin’ Zap Xebra! It was just hanging out in the parking lot of a Spanish-language church as if it wasn’t an abnormal thing to see this strange 15-year-old three-wheeled electric “car”.

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But then, upon closer inspection, I saw a second one.

Illustration for article titled Hey Look, Its A ZAP Xebra
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Who are you, mystery churchgoer, who has purchased and allowed to fall into the deepest depths of disrepair, a pair of China’s worst car ever?

The ZAP was sold here in the U.S. in very small numbers, perhaps only a few hundred, so we’re likely looking at an appreciable percentage of those which remain.

Perhaps they’re rare for good reason. The Xebra featured lead-acid batteries and a tiny 5kW motor (about 7 horsepower). It had a range of about 25 miles, and could only go about 36 miles per hour.

Honestly, with only a minor update, I’d be happy to tootle around town in a Xebra. It’s like a proto Renault Twizy or Citroën Ami. With maybe a 10kW motor that actually features regenerative braking (which the stock Xebra does not), and a rack of lighter-weight lithium batteries onboard to improve the range, this could be a good commuter.

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Maybe I’ll have to pick one up to fuck around with while we’re under quarantine. It might be a fun little project. And I could race it against Jason’s Chinese car when I’m done!

I might be going a little stir crazy here stuck at home all day. But that doesn’t mean I can’t still have terrible project car ideas.

Jalopnik contributor with a love for everything sketchy and eclectic.

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