2008 ZAP Xebra PK Electric Truck – Real life user review

We will post our experiences with ZAP and our new 2008 Xebra PK Truck. Also our review of the ZAP Xebra PK all electric truck here. Please check back often!!

2008 ZAP Xebra PK Truck at DepotEco.com

All Electric 2008 Xebra PK Truck

7/03/08
We Just took delivery of our new electric delivery truck! We have begun to condition the batteries and are learning how to drive an all electric Car. :).

Small Trips first, just a few miles then back home to charge up, then after a full charge we take a longer trip and gradually increase the range.

Our fist difficulty is our driveway and steep street leading to our drive. At more than a 30% slope it proves to be a serious challenge for the unconditioned batteries in the new Xebra. The fit and finish is poor, to be nice. We see issues everywhere, I know its “Cheap” but some of these things are embarrassing. Small details seem to be forgotten about at ZAP. The headliner and the windshield rubber don’t line up very well. The door rubbers are way to big and rub the interior door panel thus making the door want to pop back open, obviously causing the door wear issues other 2006 and 2007 Zap users are experiencing. The leather seats came dirty! Big black marks on them, and it looks like the passenger side door / fender area rubbed at one time and a very poor bondo job was done. Then someone sprayed some paint that almost matched on the spot. Humm well, so far we love our new EV but it seams no one checked this over at Zap before they loaded it on the trailer and sent it to us.

ZAP’s customer service seems lacking at this point as we are having issues getting them to respond. No real dealer network and the ZAP staff leaves much to be desired 🙁 .

Once we have some time with the Truck we will post all of our news about this Great New All Electric Truck.. More to come Pic’s to. About time!

Less Oil More Green!

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Update 7/24/08

WOW, after driving for the last 3 weeks in our new EV. The ZAP Xebra PK Truck we have quite alot to report.

ZAP Seriously Lacks Customer Service

The first most serious concern we have is the fact that the vehicle had 40 miles on the odometer upon delivery. We have asked ZAP several times for an explanation as to this and have only been told by our dealer SloEgo that “a few miles is normal and that 40 seems excessive”. Upon further investigation we have discovered that the odometer is not accurate in the vehicle. It seems to add about 1 mile for every 4 miles actually driven. This would help explain 40 miles on a truck that no one had driven before. However, that does not explain the obvious body damage and poor repair job on the passenger side front right quarter panel door intersection. It appears someone attempted to fix the door rubbing and maybe a door ding before the truck was shipped to us.

Later we started hearing a very persistent squeak when the vehicle was driven about 8 miles or more. Upon raising the rear end up and allowing the tires to free spin we discovered the rear left (drivers side) CV boot was improperly seated. After re-seating the CV Joint and re-torquing the squeak has stopped.

This vehicle has also had issues with the drivers side door latch mechanisms failing when the door lock is depressed. Upon investigation we had to open up the door panel and then disassemble the entire latch and door handle lock system. Then we found we needed to bend the lock tab on the door latch mechanisms to the appropriate angle to fix this issue.

Also, today we learned that the Xebra does not qualify for the State of California’s EV rebate! As ZAP has it advertised on their web site. And the State of California also seems to think that the Xebra does meet the States qualifications. However this is not true, unless you spend another $750 for an extended warranty on the battery pack! Why is this not made clear to the State of California and to ZAP dealers & customers? We bought the 2008 Xebra PK EV thinking it did qualify for the EV rebate as advertised. This is a serious breach of trust ZAP!!!

When we called and asked directly about these issues we were told ” oh well, it is what it is ! “… we were shocked. Yes, we expected to get a car that we knew did not meet up to the fit and finish standards of an American car. But to have ZAP’s staff say ” oh well, it is what it is ! ” simply shocking! It does not seem that there is any real attempt to offer any customer service by ZAP. If indeed, we got a car that had not been dealer prepped. That is bad enough for $13,000. But after pointing all of this out ZAP’s response has been very sad to say the least.

After all that we simply asked for the batteries extended warranty to be covered by ZAP and we would walk away a happy customer. However we were told we would need to pay! OMG!

In conclusion I must say we are very excited about the New 2008 Xebra PK and what WE will make out of it. But I must warn everyone about ZAP as a Co. They do not have a dealer network setup to deal with issues and service (at least not in Central California). Nor do they seem capable enough to handle even simple customer support issues. They talk around the issues but offer no support. Because of this I would warn all of you to be careful. If your like me and you like to tinker then the XEBRA is not a bad choice for alternative transportation. But, if you expect to get a quality built car with fit and finish standards similar to a U.S. or Japanese car standard, or a Company that will stand behind there product, then stay far away from ZAP.
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2008 72 Volt Xebra PK Performance.

So Far So Good. We have been averaging about 18 miles round trip. This includes our super steep driveway and steep street leading to my drive. I do have to take my hill into account when I leave. This means that I am using part of my range to get up my hill. As the batteries condition to longer drives they seem to get better, but I do believe that its happiest at a range of about 17 miles round trip. The average speed is about 30 mph and it can get up to 40 but keeping it there drains the batteries faster, slower speeds are the best. Finding a road where your not in the way at about 25 MPH is ideal.

Ride is ok, a bit stiff. And it did tip on two wheels today! . This seems to be because the front tire was low. As I made a 20 mph curve the sidewall of the tire collapsed and allowed the rear right tire to lift off the ground. This caused the front of the truck to drag and scrape off some Chinese bondo on the road.

Lesson learned. Check the front tire every day!. Oh and swap it our for a motorcycle tire that has stronger sidewalls.. Duh ZAP ! …

Inside, the truck is very stark and cheap. The window cranks almost hit the dash but your hand will if you try to roll up the window with the door closed. DUH ZAP! The seats are adjustable but cannot move because the seat belt attachment point stops the seat from traveling anything but about 1 inch. The windows don’t roll down all the way. Very annoying. Zap does not provide any instructions for operation of the Chinese CD/Radio/MP3 unit. You get a heater (really its a front window defogger) but no outside air or cool vent air, only hot. The glove box is just that it will hold a pair of gloves and you can still fit your registration papers in it.

This is now becoming a passion to make my 2008 Xebra PK into something that people can actually use. And I mean the average person that wants one to drive to the store and back. As it is now I would not feel comfortable with my mom, wife or friends driving it! But that will change.

If ZAP won’t DepotEco will !

Stay tuned. We will continue posting our improvements and experiences with the 2008 Xebra PK Truck.

Feel free to post your questions & comments.
“Have a Green Day”
Depoteco.com
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Update: 8/4/08

OMG!!!! I Must say , we just installed the Woodward Spring kit for the 2007 PK Truck on our 2008 PK, This was like going from riding in an old stage coach to a Cadillac. Super easy to install and yes it takes a slight mod to use the 2007 kit on the 2008 PK truck but its super easy. Ill post more later but for now I must say nice work Woodward !

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Update 8/5/08
Today we have all of our parts installed for our new added 12volt battery making the system 84 volts from 72 volts. We got all of the parts needed at Grants Pass Electric Vehicles and Woodward Aftermarket Components. So far they have both been great. Excellent service and very helpful attitude. Unfortunately our extra battery came broken from UPS. Now there seems to be some issues between Grants Pass Electric Vehicles and the Battery suppler Battery Systems. I did sense some hostility from one of the staff at GPEV when discussing our options for replacement of the damaged battery. Hopefully GPEV will work this out as we like dealing with them.
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Update 8/15/2008

NEW !! 84 Volts “Super PK” Performance.

Lots of news,

First, GPEV did come through. They replaced my damaged battery and we are all square. We will start stocking some of the Zap Upgrade parts from GPEV and other sources. Thanks GPEV for the parts and service. !

Next.

We have just finished installing our 7th battery into our system. (YEA) This makes a huge difference. For us it was absolutely necessary so we can get up our very steep hill, and driveway coming home. Without this extra voltage I had to stop at the bottom of my driveway and charge it for at least 15 to 30 minutes. Now, with the extra voltage of one more 12 volt battery we have gained at least 15% more power and speed. We were having a hard time averaging 35 mph with the stock set up. With the new setup we can hit 45 easy and 50 is actually available if you really need it!. That’s awesome. Range ? , I don’t know yet. I am using up at least 30% of my batteries getting up my Hill and driveway here. So my next test is a good long trip. So far we have done a respectable 20 miles round trip with a short one hour helper charge when parked in the only City EV spot in Santa Barbara! (so sad). Anyway, all said we have now added a Pak Trakr system that tells us the voltage of each battery in our pack, We added battery equalizers that keep all the batteries in the system at the same voltage (balanced). We have removed the stock rear springs and replaced them with much, much, much better performing springs that allow the shocks to take most of the bumps in the road. Now we have a very acceptable ride. We have added a 7th battery ramping our systems voltage up to 84 volts. Now I can say I would let my wife or someone else drive it. As I can now get it to pass the test of my hills. I can actually use this as a grocery getter, hardware runs etc car.

I will continue to upgrade the insides and maybe move to the next level with a 96 volt system. Stay tuned for more..

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Update 9/20/2008

Things are looking very good. WE have been driving just about anywhere we need as many times as we need as fast as the roads will allow. Now with the added battery the Xebra Super PK is great!.  I have found that when it does sit for a few days the Battery pack seems to loose its range a bit. But this comes back when we drive it more and more. After sitting for more than a week with no use , It got me everywhere I needed and back home. The absolute best addition is the Pak Trakr unit that allows me to see how much life the pack has left. Like a fuel gauge! this is absolutely the best improvement. Now I have a gauge to tell me if I am about to get in trouble and need a charge. Or in my case if I have enough juice in my pack to get back up the hill and then my driveway.  So far so good.  Also I understand ZAP is now importing a newer PK SD sedan that has been designed a bit better. Things may be picking up for ZAP.  I am extremely happy with the improvements we have done to our PK truck. The extra battery and the improved suspension.  Last improvements are the interior lighting we have added. Stock the PK has no inside illumination at all. so we added a set of led  lights and a cool USB light as a map light. Now we have light to see direction selector. F/R   There are of course many things to pick at, But I get to laugh and wave as i drive by the Gas stations. Those places I go to get Air for my tires 🙂 . The next task is to get the city to provide more EV parking spots.  More to come.

Update 10/21/2008

Battery memory is a slight issue. As I have reported in the past my Zap PK can sit for a few days as I do way to much work at my desk 🙁 .  So this means that I might not drive it for 2 or 3 days.  When I drive it again I have lost considerable battery range!  Not enough to keep me from getting home, but not as much as the 40 miles I was almost getting.  The memory  bounces right back the next time I drive it but it is a consideration to be kept in mind. Until we have a good source of Lithium Batteries you will want to drive your ZAP PK at least once a day.

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Update 10/31/2008

We lost a battery cable today, Looks like a bad crimp job on one of the Battery Cables.

This caused the Pak Trakr to alert me 🙂  very nice! Upon inspection my Battery Equalizer from Smart Spark also indicated that the # 5 Battery was having issues.  When I checked it out I could clearly see that the crimped on terminal end (battery cable end) was loose causing it to heat up enough to start to melt the rubber boot and cause it to turn black where it touched.

My next upgrade will be marina grade 2/0 with copper tinned marina grade terminal ends. This is not a surprise to me as the original cable is under sized on the battery pack from ZAP! The first thing I did was to upgrade the Drive Cables when I first got the PK. Now for the Battery pack I will size up to 2/0 ( two ought) for the absolute least resistance and heat within the pack.

Lets see how this does..

Check back very soon.

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Update 4/29/2011

Wow how time files. Last thing was the upgrade to the Heavy Duty 2/0 ( two ought) battery cable.

Well we have completed this Mod and it is a Huge help with our Hills. In fact with the bigger wire we are seeing much better performance all the way around.  We also removed the Smart Spark Battery EQ as direct by the Manufacture. We replaced them with the Power Cheq devices and have not missed a beat.
 
So far the Zap is doing great.  And with that its about time for us to trade up to a new Electric Nissan Leaf.
 
So we soon hope to be Changing things up a bit with a ongoing review of our all Electric Nissan Leaf. We are on the list to receive a New Leaf and will use the ZAP as a Trade in.. Cool, trading in an electric car for a new electric car..  ( Meet George Jetson………)
 
Update 5/5/2011
Happy Cinco De Mayo
Today we received our Reservation for our new LEAF.
Ill continue to update as we go through the process.  For us its even more exciting because we will be one of only a few that is trading in and all electric for an all electric!.
We will create new review post on our blog of the Nissan LEAF and our use of it , much like the ZAP PK Review here..So look for that coming soon.
 
7/01/11 Update:, Our LEAF is In Our Hands..

28 thoughts on “2008 ZAP Xebra PK Electric Truck – Real life user review

  1. Has there been any head to head comparison of the two variations of the voltage upgrade, or more to the point are you two Zapsters going to race this year? I got to ride in the DepotEco Xebra both before and after the upgrade – big difference! It seems that 84volts is way to go. Much less thinking about who is going to run over you from behind.

  2. I got the 84v kit installed and the 08 pk is a lot better now, has better acceleration from a stop and maintains speed going over the hills and overpass I need to travel to work.

    With 84v the pac is @ 80% when I get to work (5 miles), sits for 8 1/2 hours no charge, the pac is @ 56% when I get back home (5 miles). This is with the stock zap heater on the entire trip to and from work. Hopefully the voltage drains will be less when the heater is not needed.

    Dale

  3. If anyone is planning on installing a 84v kit from GPEV on a Zap pk, I would suggest pricing the parts individually from their site, It will be less to buy the box, charger, battery strap and battery cables from them and buy the #12 wire, connectors and 4 self tapping screws at a hardware store.

    I would have have enough money to pay for the 400a fuse with shipping that I needed to complete the conversion.

    Not a bad reflection on GPEV, they are great folks and helped me a lot. Just an observation of the money spent.

  4. Dale, I can get you the Smart Spark units. They are much better because they put up with the Heat, Dirt, water etc. While we like Gpev, we actually called Smart Spark and had them repair one of our EQ’s The only issue with the Smart Spark Batt EQ is that you must hook the and unhook them in order. if you do not you will fry the unit. Here on our PK after installing the Batt Eq the voltage mismatch you describe.. (yes we had it on those exact batteries..) went way. Now all of the Batteries are between 14.5 and 14.0 . Also when the PK sits for a long time the batteries regain there range much faster because EQ;s are constantly balancing the loads.

    Email me if you want the Smart Spark EQ,s we don’t stock them but will carry them when needed.

  5. I got the 84v kit and ordered the 400A from GPEV, Sean has removed the Batteq’s and now sells the Powerchec units. I guess smartpark was having problems with them and stop making them for now.

    I have battery #4 and at times #5 that will have a lower voltage than the others and when charging #1,2,3,6 will be 14.8v and #4,5 will be 15v.

    That’s why I’m considering the balancers.

  6. Dale, I used the BattEQ™ from Smart Spark, they work very well and give you feed back via LED. it has not alerted me to on bad battery that Zap has finely replaced!. worth Evey penny. I have only read that the others do not put up with the Heat and vibration in a Ev like our. The Smart Spark Batterer is a Solid state Water proof block. you can mount it just about anywhere. I put mine on the frame rails so i can see the led status lights.. Ill post a pic here of them ..

    see Smart Spark here.
    http://www.smartsparkenergy.com/products.aspx

  7. I have a 08 Zap pk, received it 12/11/08.

    So far I have installed the Woodward rear springs, paktrakr and the battery box for the 84v kit, plan to put the 7th battery in this weekend. Am waiting for a 400a bus fuse, was told the 84v may blow the stock 300a fuse on hills.

    Has anyone used powercheq battery balancers, or know if they are effective enough to warrant the $300 cost?

  8. Re: earlier comment (above) on the Buckshot, NEVER MIND, see my comment today under “Triac video”. Some people say “I can do that” in good faith and then fail. The issue is whose money they do it with and what promises were made.

    Meanwhile back in the real world I see the Zap with performance tweaks turning into a practical solution for hill country as well as the flats. I have burned up a gas burner before its time doing short hops several times a day. Cold starts age combustion engines faster than about anything else but neglect. Doing the same thing electric is a viable option today because Zap did it! Intermediate speed neighborhood electric vehicles are a new and exciting class of transportation that make sense whether gas is $1 or $10 a gallon!

  9. In our case we added the Woodward Spring kit to soften up the ride that also lowers the rear of the zap about 1 inch. So not only did we need to bend the bracket but also use a Spacer washer. We needed to bring ours out of the hole enough to Aim it down. But the Point remains that the Light is a good light . It just needs to be aimed at the road.. 🙂

  10. Zap Headlight Alignment: To fix the center headlight that points up at about 30 degrees, I found that the headlight is best positioned not just by bending the bracket forward, but by adding a couple spacer washers between the mount and the bracket.

  11. Bret, Welcome.

    Here’s what I did to my Stock Head light.
    I was all set to replace it. But i discovered that is not a bad light. It just needs to be aligned. ZAP has it pointing at the SKY, and after the suspension upgrade your Zap will sit lower in the rear allowing the springs to actual take some weight. This change made my head light so bad that I took it out and bent the bracket forward. This makes my Head light Stick through the hole. Now I can align it up and down.. So now the light is plenty bright as It really is a good quality Halogen Motorcycle head lamp. Once you can point it back down at the road match it up to your car. Park your Car and your ZAP next to each other with your head lamps pointing at your garage door. Then you can match up the Zap light .. Once you have it aligned to light the Road and not the Trees you will be amazed.

    If that does not work for you.. then get back with me. I have found brighter lamps that will fit. But they will stick out through the whole a bit more.

    Ill take a Pic of my set up and stick it in this post so you can see..

    Thanks for stopping by..

    And share some of your experiences with us here about your 2007 Zap….

  12. I bought a 2007 Xebra PK in June and also did the suspension upgrade, and have started the 84v upgrade. I am still waiting on Zap/dealer to qualify me for the rebate with an extended battery warranty as well. I have replaced all of the lights with LED except for the headlight. Have you found anything to upgrade the stock headlight with?

  13. Okay, what about the Buckshot? The suspense is making me crazy. They say I am turning into a technomaniac. I say Depoteco finds cool stuff that saves me money and looks good. But it is even better that real people answer questions and the blogs explain how things work. It is really easy to get suckered into something that sounds good out there. Cars are expensive and these little EVs while not cheap are looking much less expensive to operate than the gas burners, within their limits. I really might buy one, but it might be wise to let you shop around a little longer.

  14. The Buckshot has many features that are attractive: the regenerative brakes, the AC motor, battery management, and lithium too. With that payload and its transmission it might just be enough for a service vehicle. The Xebra left me thinking there must a better way. Maybe this is it. I can’t wait to try a Buckshot. It sounds like a big step up.

  15. I doubt ZAP ever designed the Xebra and simply sourced off a supplier in China where these three wheelers (Tricycles) are readily available in all sorts of configurations, including rear tip tray.
    Pricing ranges from $6000 depending on design and configuration.
    This is also likely why nothing none of ZAP’s imaginings have ever appeared as no Chinese supplier makes them (yet).

    Not sure why someone else hasn’t simply set up shop and started bringing these vehicles in just like ZAP does while claiming to be a pioneer in the EV field

    They’re simply a marketing company and have been since the founder was ousted.
    The ZAP boys are clever and stupid at the same time.
    Clever in exploiting a niche but doing some very stupid things in the process.
    ATV’s, Cargo bikes, Scooters like Vectrix , cars, buses etc etc are all available now.
    Granted quality has to be inspected before bringing them in but that never stopped ZAP.
    Anyone wants to know more I am happy to help

  16. Steve, why are you awake? where do you live?
    ZAP says 3 cents a mile for the PK avrage electric cost.
    Yes in my case I pay zero. Thats why I went out on a limb and bought it. I generate my own electricity with my Solar PV system on my house. Then I store it in batteries. Just like in my car 🙂 . and now I store some in my car batteries to. But for you 3 cents a mile is much better then $4.79 cents a gallon for gas like it is here.

    I would think? and the speed and range are not really an issue. I have yet to need to take it on a longer than 20 mile trip. So if your like 60 % of us you have a 20 mile trip or less a day you can now do with this real world affordable Electric Vehicle.

  17. Updates above.

    Lena the parking brake is nice and tight now. ! 🙂

    Tom, people cant stop looking at the 84 Volt “Super PK Xebra” Truck. I think most of them are just about to scream with the price of gas now in Santa Barbara.

    As for ZAP the co. so far nothing. They actually said they would look into paying for the added Battery warranty to make the Xebra PK qualify for the Cal EV rebate. But that was about 3 weeks ago now. I am not holding my breath.

    I think the best way to get a ZAP right now is to get one from a guy like me. Someone that has worked it over a bit . Now with the recent modifacations to DepotEco’s ZAP Xebra PK it really is a very usable means of transportation.

  18. The first time I saw the Zap Xebra the parking brake would not hold on that steep driveway after it stopped unable to climb up all the way. Now that it has been adjusted and souped-up I agree it is a better ride and fast enough that everyone doesn’t feel they need to pass. Thanks Depoteco for the ride. It really is a fun way to make short trips and cruise without the gas bill. The Xebra is cute too.
    It is easier to let someone else do the experimenting and take the chances. I think that sites like this and others that share their experiences and discoveries are the how-to book for the electric vehicle industry. All the big companies seem to do is think of new ways to burn gasoline and up-sell us features we don’t need and can often ill afford to haul around every time we run an errand!
    Thanks for sharing the adventure Depoteco!

  19. When DepotEco got the 2008 Zap Xebra I had a few rides during the break-in, yes, the batteries require conditioning in order to optimize their performance. After putting monitors and battery balancers on the six batteries and the replacement of some of the factory cables it was clear that the Zap was not going to be good on hills and in fact could not make it up the driveway at DepotEco. The ride was compared to a buckboard which was probably an exaggeration but descriptive.
    With the after-market springs installed the ride is greatly improved, even comfortable for a vehicle of this size, two, two hundred pounders is a cab-full. It rides a little lower and seems more in touch with the road. It is a good thing too with battery number seven raising the voltage (don’t try this at home) from 72 to 84 there is definite performance improvement. It feels like riding in a car instead of the gutless, three wheel motorcycle which is what it is in the world of DMV and insurance. It now makes it up the driveway too.
    The stock 2008, even with the an upgrade to the best 6 batteries the factory had to offer, didn’t have enough power to work well in this neighborhood. With more pep and a comfortable ride it is a real option for running around town. With the after-market instrumentation it was apparent that the seventh battery dropped the current draw from 368 amps and shutdown, to 280 amps and make it up the hill.
    It has to be mentioned that the Zap turned up new from the factory with enough body and mechanical issues, poor attention to detail, to make me say look it over carefully before you take delivery. Better, find a qualified person to look it over and maintain it. Electric vehicles are a very different species and there is no how-to-do-it book. I hope Zap gets it together on quality control and customer support.
    We went for a ride down State Street Santa Barbara in the Zap early Friday night. I have cruised State many times for many years and never gotten that many looks outside of a parade, even a few pictures. What would they think if they knew that this Zap charges off a solar powered house and costs nothing to run. Great cruiser.
    Santa Barbara it turns out has only one EV charging station provided downtown, two dedicated spaces in one parking garage with a wall outlet, some antiquated charging gear for a car no one seems to have, and a city EV parked in one of the spaces. Please someone tell me I am wrong about this. This is supposed to be a “green city”.

  20. So what you are saying is off the lot a Zap is underpowered if it isn’t on level ground, has a hard ride, needs a lot of fixing and the customer support sucks? The hot cable doesn’t sound good. What do you think it will cost to fix it yourself?
    How much room inside? How stable on corners? A few thousand dollars more than a Zap’s list price buys a new real truck or a used truck and a lot of gas.
    The most interesting thing is the battery balancers. Batteries can take quite a bit of monitoring especially if you need peak performance just to get home. Can you give more information or a link?
    Thanks for the blog, it helps that someone takes the time to share these experiences. There is not much but press releases on new technology. Your real world reports are a lot more useful than car show glitz.

  21. Lena, Our First Mod is to up size the Welding cable that feeds the Motor with better cable.

    The first thing we noticed is that the 4 moter drive cables are getting very hot when the EV is asked to climb our driveway. So our first Mod is to make it climb out driveway without any complaints.

    Next we will add Battery Balancers to the Battery Pack. Then we will add one more Battery to step it up to a 84 volt system!

    Upgrade the suspension, and redo the inside to make it look less cheep. Not sure what that means yet.

  22. ZAP seems to have a History of Bad Customer service but an ok product. Wired did a big Articl about How ZAP has promised the world but only delivers a small part.

    I do have to say that at least ZAP is doing it. makings EV’s. While its very Sad that an American CO. based in Ca, would make such a low quality product. At least someone is trying something.

    Keep us informed. I wont buy any thing from ZAP.
    but i will from DepotEco.com!!

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