Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Honey, can we get a Xebra?

Here at the ranch, we love cars and we hate what driving them does to our planet. Our best efforts with increased efficiency and biofuels reduce our impact, but don't solve the problem.

The best solution, it seems to me, is an electric car that runs on solar. Unfortunately, the electric car has been killed, at least for now, unless you have $100,000 to spend. There are the so-called Neighborhood Electric Vehicles, which are basically golf carts with a 25 mph maximum speed. The speed is restricted because NEVs are exempt from auto safety features like seat belts and air bags. (It's worth considering that although airbags and solid bumpers and side-impact bars make cars safer, they also make the car much, much heavier, and much less fuel efficient.) NEVs are ideal for planned communities, senior parks, and UCSB uses them for campus maintenance crews. Alas, not a good fit for Fuller & Fuller. 25 mph is just tooooo slow, even for Santa Barbara streets.

I thought I was out of options. Until I saw the Xebra.

At $10,000, the Xebra is incredibly affordable by EV standards. Classified as a motorcycle for DMV/DOT purposes (though no, you don't have to wear a helmet), it side-steps the 25 mph limit on NEVs and goes 40+ mph, with a range of 25 miles on a charge, 40 miles per day. In the same class as the single passenger $25,000 Myers NmG, the four door, four passenger Xebra should be able to get us all downtown and back—though I was a little snug in the back seat during a test drive. Like the NEVs, the Xebra is missing a lot of the safety features we're used to in a car, but it is safer than a bicycle. The Xebra Xero has solar panels on the roof, so it replenishes its batteries all day.

The drawbacks? It's made in China, though imported by a California company. The safety issue is also a concern. Also, we have to consider that a new vehicle requires resources in its manufacture.

On the plus side: I want one. And right now, my beloved Santa Barbara Electric Bicycle Company is hosting Little Radio EV, which is as close to buying locally as we can get.

Should we? The comment board is open.


George said...

But then Neba Zeeba gets eaten by crocodile...sorry, been reading too much "Pearls Before Swine."

Seriously, could you get 2 greyhounds ni the back seat?

Queen Whackamole said...

I think you could... two greyhounds or a half dozen chihuahuas...

Amy said...

I know someone that knows someone.. sorry I got this song in my head...

I know someone with the little zeeba truck. I can get you in contact with them if you want to talk to someone that actually has one.

We saw it at Earthday, it was very cute.. and in hipster black.. very cool.

I think a half dozen chihuahuas is more like one greyhound.. and if you're talking about Nigel, make that 8 chihuahuas!

wv #1: wphzf (whatup zeeba)
wv #2: fqookag
wv #3!: ekghp

Patrick said...

Get the one with the solar panel. Power from the electricity grid comes mostly from coal, which ain't no better and probably worse than gasoline, though it has the benefit to us if not the planet of polluting some else's air.

Only $10,000. Hmmm.

Trekking Left said...

Here's the complete answer (price, power, and coal burning plants all addressed) ==> buy a plug-in hybrid and put solar panels on your house :) ... For 10K, though, I might consider the Xebra.

Queen Whackamole said...

3 tries at wv??? Sorry, Amy!
Patrick makes a good point, and Trekking guessed my entire evil scheme!
They are bumpier with the solar panels, since the panels add weight and the suspension is minimal... solar at home wouldn't have that drawback...
I entered the raffle to win one... fingers crossed!

Anonymous said...

We are ahead of our time. Wait until they run out of gas, then they'll clamor. Until then the modern urban assault vehicle will rule the road. Mad Max dead ahead.