Low-speed EV maker Zap has joined with China’s Lishen in a deal that will provide financing to “several thousand” Zap EV buyers. It seems Zap has turned its eye back to the U.S., after switching its focus to the growing Chinese market.
It’s the success in China that has Zap re-setting its sites on America. In China. Zap and its affiliate, Jonway Auto, claims to have more than 25,000 orders for its Urbee and Sparkee, two small, low-speed and low-cost EVs with city driving in mind. The Urbee packs a 90-mile driving range, while the Sparkee comes with more features but a higher price (and looks like a Smart car ripoff), with the two models settling between $7,000 and $12,000.
Zap is hoping American consumers will find something appealing about a low-cost EV with a decent driving range. But are Americans ready for Chinese-built cars? We’re not so sure. That’s where the financing comes in. If Zap can provide buyers sweetheart deals and low-cost leases, it might be enough to move some cars.
The Zap EVs still have to pass a battery of safety features, and EPA testing could reveal a much shorter driving range than official press releases claim. With production slated to begin in China this month, it will take most of the year just to work through the backlog of orders. When Zap and Lishen do launch for reals here in America, it will take a lot of marketing to get consumers to even consider a Chinese EV.
Let’s not forget what happened to Coda….