Posts Tagged 'Obvio'



For those of us a little wary of electricity, “ZAP” may not be the best name for an electric appliance of any kind.

In this case, however, ZAP stands for Zero Air Pollution, and is the name of the automotive designers behind the “Alias” electric car, which might be available sometime in 2009.


It’s striking to look at – I rather like it from the front. Most electric vehicles seem to be the design equivalent of government supplied medical prosthetics, so anything that looks remotely sporty has a market edge straight away. I did say I liked it from the front – it was more difficult to find a rear view in my searches, and I can see why it’s not the main publicity shot. It does look a bit as though you’ve driven off and left the rear wheel behind.

Rear wheel – singular – brings me to something else interesting about the Alias’s design. It’s a three-wheeler, which has interesting issues in the UK, and maybe elsewhere. Another ZAP design, the Xebra-2 has already passed the VOSA tests, required before any vehicle is allowed to be driven on public roads, and is also a three-wheeler. This one has two rear and one front wheel, and looks a little like a modern rendering of the Reliant Robin, whereas the Alias has two front and one rear wheel, as did the now highly collectable Isetta.


The Isetta did not become very popular in the UK until this three-wheeled version was introduced – previous models had four wheels, with two small wheels at the back close together. UK motorists took to the tricycle version because it could be driven on a motorcycle licence, and attracted a much lower rate of road tax, which is determined in part by the number of wheels.

ZAP, based in California, have been designing and selling their electric vehicles since 1994, and have a good range of vehicles for different needs. What makes them different from other makes is partly this proven track record, and partly that the cars are rather well designed. Their range includes an the stylish Obvio, and an impressive collaboration with Lotus, to create the ZAP-X.


Their website has all the technical details, and a pre-order form, but there’s an excellent synopsis of the company’s current and new ranges at Fuel-Efficient-Vehicles.