Electric Cars Turning Heads

5/17/2008 Porterville, CA The vehicles run about $10,000, but Zap Dealer Mike Brackett said the vehicles should pay for themselves in a year. "1 to 3 cents a mile to drive. Plugs into any 110 outlet. Full coverage insurance costs about $150 to $200 a year. You're saving all the way around," said Brackett.

Brackett has been selling the Zaps for three months and said interest in the vehicles grows each time the price of gas jumps. The truck and sedan models can reach speeds up to 45 to 50 miles per hour, and can make it 25 to 40 miles on a single charge.

Because of the maximum speed, the vehicles are not recommended for freeway use, but Brackett said they're great for everyday driving. "You have six batteries, a charger and a motor. No oil change, no tuners, no smogging," said Brackett.

The electric technology created quite a buzz at the Porterville Fair, where the carnival's operators are also feeling the pinch. It takes 10,000 gallons of diesel fuel to run generators that power rides. The carnival's operators said they have to swallow the costs, because they can't pass them on to the fair at this point.

"You can't just come into a fair and say, 'you gotta help me with this.' We got a contract, we have to live by the terms of our contract so we're taking a hit," said Kurt Bonberg with Butler Amusement. Bonberg said the cost of fuel has them looking for ways to be more fuel efficient. That includes taking second looks at electric technology.

As good as no gas sounds, Porterville resident Phil Larson said he wants to see the technology evolve before he takes the plunge. "Looking forward to seeing one that goes a little faster, a longer range. But I think it's a good beginning," said Larson.

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