WAVE 3 Investigates: Is the ZAP car all it's cracked up to be?

By Caton Bredar - bio  | email

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - If Gov. Beshear has his way, Kentuckians will not only be driving electric ZAP cars, they will be making them. Tuesday, Beshear signed an order making electric cars legal in Kentucky, then met with company officials in Shepherdsville to try and get a manufacturing plant for the Bluegrass. But ZAP cars are not without some controversy. WAVE 3's Caton Bredar spent the day looking into the company's troubled past.

Beshear is excited about the prospect of a ZAP car plant in Kentucky. He believes he can come up with an incentive package and get a deal put together in a matter of days. But even if that happens, can the ZAP cars deliver on their promises? I did some digging and found a lot more questions than answers.

It's an opportunity not only for drivers to avoid the sting at the fuel pump, but Gov. Beshear says, "This is a unique opportunity for Kentuckians.

He also said, "At the same time, it opens up a tremendous economic opportunity for all of us."

But exactly what kind of opportunity? Currently manufactured in China and retailing for around $10,000 ZAP cars, and the ZAP Company, have been the subject of great debate.

An article published earlier this year in Wired Magazine questions among many things, the company's claim, that the Xebra ZAP car can achieve 40 miles per hour over a 40 mile range. So we asked the CEO of ZAP Electric Cars about it.

"It's really just the same as any gasoline vehicle. When they post the fuel economy on the window, they post the fuel economy under optimum conditions. If you drive the vehicles on level ground, under optimum conditions, you get the same mileage," said Steve Schneider.

That was nearly the only thing we were able to ask him before the interview was stopped.

One thing was made perfectly clear - it is all about the money ZAP cars could save that will determine if the company moves to Kentucky.

"Even if it costs a little bit more for us to build here, if the package is right, we're going to seriously make the move," Schneider said.

But exactly where that will be is up in the air despite the company's previous promise to set up shop in Shepherdsville.

"To date, Bullitt County has not shown us any kind of lands that would be in the area of what we need, or has not come to us with any kind of incentive packages in order to keep us in this area," said Randall Waldman, CEO of Integrity Manufacturing.

Off camera, before they rushed off, Integrity officials told me everything in the Wired Magazine article had been retracted. I contacted a spokesperson for the magazine who told me there had been no retractions and said that the editors stood 100 percent by their story.

ZAP car officials say they are ready to break ground in about a month.