The ZAP-X Crossover

When will the promise of electric cars be realized? As Larry Burns, VP of R&D for General Motors has patiently reminded the auto-bloggers, innovation isn’t sustainable until you can manufacture a vehicle not by the hundreds, but by the hundreds of thousands. So when will GM’s “Volt” hit the showrooms? And what does it mean that we have so many aspirants to become the maker of the next generation electric car – Tesla, ZAP, ZENN, AC Propulsion, Phoenix, Myers Motors, the Tango, and many, many more?

The just announced “ZAP-X” all electric car.

Who is going to build the model T of electric cars – the one that captures the imagination of a nation, and sells by the millions? Could it be the ZAP-X Crossover?

It’s hard not to like the concept. All electric, a 350 mile range, recharge in ten minutes (that one really stretches credulity, ZAP), in-wheel motors, over 600 horsepower, and it looks like a mid-sized SUV. And who’s to say ZAP can’t pull it off, given they’ve announced a partnership with Lotus to design and build this car?

But how ZAP is going to get from here to there is the question. It isn’t clear how much ZAP, who has been in business since 1993, is going to bring to the table. Many of their cars have been manufactured elsewhere – they claim to have sold over 90,000 cars, but most of these are light electric vehicles that you can’t drive on the freeway and many of them were imported. The ZAP-X crossover is a huge, ambitious leap forward.

Not only is ZAP moving abruptly into the mainstream with the announcement of the ZAP-X Crossover, but they must have some financial backing to get themselves there. Looking at ZAP’s financials – they are a public company – as of 12-31-06 they reported cash reserves of $2.1M, and with losses during 2006 of nearly 12 million, they are burning through $4.0M per quarter. Since formation ZAP has lost nearly $87 million, nearly twice their current enterprise value. How is ZAP staying alive?

If ZAP overcomes a legacy of financial losses and takes the best technology and expertise they’ve acquired over the years to team up with Lotus Engineering to make the ZAP-X Crossover the first mainstream all-electric car – it won’t be the first time a pioneering company with a bold vision pulled themselves through to triumph at last. But it is the exception, not the rule. Nonetheless we are pulling for them, and we hope they surprise everyone. Somebody is going to do this.

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