Zap's founder and director of research and development, Gary Starr says the future is here, all we have to do is plug in.
"The Zap approach is to make electric cars more cost effective and more comfortable," Starr said during a tour of the downtown Santa Rosa, Calif. showroom and factory on Monday.
If you're unfamiliar with with Zap's vehicles, don't feel bad. The car maker is right smack in the middle of Sonoma County, a Northern California region more known for its wine than its electric cars.
Truth is, Zap has been the driving force behind electric bicycles, scooters, ATVs, taxis, and fleet cars for decades. Currently, Zap is working on an all-electric U.S. Postal Service truck.
The U. S. Postal Service has contracted with Zap for the design and development of an electric version of the Grumman Long Life Vehicle, the light transport truck exclusively used by the USPS.
The day I visited Zap, the LLV was on a rack with a technician under the hood; its classic design was unmistakably familiar. USPS operates about 142,000 of these trucks. And, as Starr pointed out, the trucks are driven relatively short distances and then parked over night. The trucks also spend a lot of time in idle.
Zap is one of five companies selected to build a prototype gas-to-electric conversion of the LLV. Once finished, the truck will be road-tested in Washington D.C.
The USPS provided design guidelines and operational requirements including: speed, range, duty cycle, weight, and safety. Zap's design staff has prior experience with gas-to-electric conversions of USPS trucks designed for use in rural areas.
A large portion of Zap's car sales are fleet vehicles. Zap supplies EVs for a number of government entities, companies, and universities including Google, University of San Francisco, National Park Service, Coca Cola, and the military.
"We want to make a car that's more comfortable; a car that the driver prefers to drive," Starr said.