January 26, 2009 ZAP has shown a pre-production version of its three-wheeled, all-electric Alias roadster at the National Automobile Dealers Association annual conference and exposition in New Orleans. The company, which is best known for its small-footprint, low-emissions, low-speed electric cars and trucks for urban use is looking to get on the highway with its latest creation. The preliminary specs for the two-seater Alias give it a top speed of 105 mph, acceleration of 0 – 60 mph in 7.8 seconds and a range of over 100 miles on a single charge. Throw in a sculptured low slung design, gull-wing style doors and a price point predicted to be under the USD$35K mark and you have another promising prospect for the soon to explode EV marketplace.

The Alias uses lithium-ion batteries and is powered by an AC induction motor running at 216 volts. The design also incorporates regenerative braking, composite shell, solar glass and integrated GPS.

ZAP plans to produce a limited number of hand-crafted "Signature Series" Alias roadsters this year whilst full production requirements are still being finalized. The company has outsourced most of its manufacturing work to China in recent years but plans to build the Alias in the U.S.

"This is a logical progression for the market over the next five years as demand gears up for electric cars," says ZAP CEO Steve Schneider. "Consumer interest indicates there is already a market for thousands of units. Independent research and our own experience tell us the future of the auto industry requires a radical change in thinking and the Alias is uniquely positioned to capture demand for an affordable vehicle of this type."

It will be interesting to see if smaller companies like ZAP, which has been in the EV market since 1994, can still retain an early mover advantage in the coming EV revolution now that many of the big players are getting serious about getting a slice of the pie - a fact that was clearly in evidence at this month's Detroit Auto Show.

ZAP also used the National Automobile Dealers Association annual conference showcase a new XL Truck and to debut a new five-passenger, 4-wheel, plug-in electric mini-van with removable seats and a cargo carrying capacity of 108 cubic feet / 900 lb. With a price of $14,500 and a top speed of around 25mph, the Shuttle and Truck are designed for use in large establishments like college campuses and for tasks like ferrying passengers to and from parking lots.

Noel McKeegan

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