I did! And it was really cool. Ecomotion, a new Earth friendly vehicle dealer opened near my house in Northeast Portland last week, and I couldn’t resist swinging by to see what they were selling. The showroom was filled with electric Zap! cars ” lipstick pink ones, Kermit green ones, fluffy cloud white ones, and even a surfboard blue teeny truck that got me thinking about the possibility of zapping my way to the beach every weekend. Unfortunately, this version of the electric car — only capable of going 25 miles per charge up to a maximum speed of 40 miles per hour — is not freeway legal… yet. Apparently, within six months Ecomotion will carry souped-up versions of the Zap! car that will be faster and capable of going much farther. I’m sure it’s not this one, but the notion of pimping my electro-ride makes me wonder if I could run an extension cord from the bathroom at Short Sands to a parking space.
The car I test drove was the Zap! Xebra, a three-wheel, four-door sedan that seats four and weighs in at 1,800 pounds. The first thing I noticed about the car was how quiet it was. I had no idea the thing was on until I pushed down the accelerator (not “gas pedal”) and it took off. The car has more spunk than I was expecting, and feels pretty solid on the road. I hesitate to call this a glamorized golf cart, with its fully enclosed seating area, classy interior, and faux wood dashboard, but it did rattle a little over bumps. No problem, I thought, and cranked up the little stereo system. Classic rock inspired me put the pedal to the metal and within seconds I had the green machine maxed out at 40.
I’ve never driven a car that’s turned heads before”no cherry red convertibles or Hummers with spinners”but I immediately noticed people gawking at my Zap! as it zipped down the road blasting Zepplin. I must’ve looked like a Jetson. And I really do hope that these zero emission cars can be sustainably integrated into the future of transportation. They are very quiet and would be much lower impact, not only on the environment but also on each other, should two collide (no airbags yet).
The Zap Car Xebra that I drove retails for around $10,500. Ecomotion, located at 1625 NE Sandy Blvd. in Portland, also carries pre-owned Smart Cars, Myers Motors Vehicles, Dymac Trucks, pre-owned diesels, hybrids, and new electric personal transportation vehicles (I liked the speedy Zappy3 ” look out Segway!) Though they’re open for business, the dealership’s grand opening is scheduled for September 21.