Neighborhood Outtake: Zap XL – The Neighborhood Electrician Drives An Electric Truck (and a Diesel VW Van)

Things are a little different in my neighborhood, in case you haven’t quite cottoned to that. If you call an electrician, he might well show up in this electric truck, and plug it in while he’s working on your house, assuming the power’s still on. And his partner will show up in an almost equally exotic work van; a Euro-spec VW T4 LWB TDI Transporter.

Yes, it’s a Zap. A company that essentially invented the word “green scam”; a notorious outfit that scalped a seemingly endless number of investors by hyping all kinds of future EVs, only to ever sell a pathetic little three-wheeler, the Xebra. I wrote a scathing review on one back in 2008, and I’d like to think it helped some with the inevitable demise of this outfit. In 2013, they were forced to recall and scrap every 2008 Xebra ever sold because the brakes were so feeble. The stock price is currently at $0.01, and their website has gone dead. Zapped!

This is the XL Truck, which replaced the crappy Xebra three-wheeler. It’s some obscure Chinese trucklet that runs on some 12V lead-acid batteries under the bed, and is limited to a top speed of 25 mph, under the Neighborhood Electric Vehicle (NEV) rules. Its range quite limited; probably some 20 miles, if not less, especially once the batteries age. But that’s far enough to get this little van to the job, and get topped up while it awaits the trip home.

Here’s some of the batteries in their trays. The EV world has come a long way since 2009 or so. Tesla shattered all of the old conceptions of EV, and Zap along with it.

But it makes an adequate tool hauler, as long as its limitations are accepted. And one is prepared to buy new batteries every three or four years. But there’s essentially no fuel cost, especially when its being recharged on the job site. We’re talking nickels and dimes in any case.

The other van is one I’ve seen in my neighborhood for years, and probbaly have shown before. It’s a European (or possibly Canadian) VW T4 (1990-2003) Transporter, a long wheelbase version with a TDI engine and stick shift.

I’m not sure how it got registered here well before its 25th birthday, but I see all sorts of non-US spec cars here I could say the same thing about. Oregon must be pretty easy to game that way.

So what do the electricians drive in your neighborhood? Probably something a bit more conventional, I’m guessing.