Electric vehicles swerve into Sacramento

Local salesmen bring electric vehicles to town

Reno Scott (seated) and son Bobby show off a sweet electric ride.

Reno Scott (seated) and son Bobby show off a sweet electric ride.

Photo By Ted Cox

For more information, visit www.zapworld.com.

When it comes to salesmen, those hawking used cars seem to automatically get a bad rap.

But one father-and-son team might help change that negative image. Bobby Scott and his father, Reno, partnered with ZAP motors to bring a line of electric vehicles to their Cost Plus Auto dealership in Rancho Cordova.

Electric vehicles are good news for the environment. They cut down on gasoline use, produce minimal greenhouse-gas emissions and their engines require fewer moving parts, which mean the vehicles’ production has a smaller impact on the environment compared to gasoline-powered cars. Bobby believes that offering a less-expensive, lower-emissions vehicle will be good for both Sacramento residents and his business.

“I’m honestly just hoping to keep everything economical. I’m doing this as a way for people to be able to afford an electric vehicle, to cut down on their gas bill, to cut down their carbon footprint,” Bobby said.

On a sunny Friday afternoon in August, the Scotts hosted a VIP and media meet-and-greet underneath a white tent on their small lot, where reporters and city officials, including Rancho Cordova Mayor Linda Budge, could test drive ZAP’s scooters and cars. Mayor Budge took a gray scooter out for a spin, zooming back and forth on the lot.

“Gosh, I could ride one of these to City Hall,” she said, grinning.

ZAP (as in Zero Air Pollution) has been around since 1994 and has sold more than 100,000 vehicles in more than 75 countries, according to its Web site. One representative at the event said the company plans to open up a plant in Kentucky. Currently, the vehicles are made in China.

Originally from Santa Rosa, Calif., the Scotts brought their dealership to Rancho Cordova in January. Their previous lot in the North Bay was next door to a ZAP dealership, familiarizing them with the brand. They considered several locations for moving their business: Las Vegas, San Diego and Phoenix.

“But Sacramento had a little better market,” said Bobby, who was the one with the idea to sell electric vehicles.

“Bobby said, ‘Listen, I want to be in the electric side of this,’” Reno recalled. “He’s very keenly interested in the environment and protecting it. What we’re making is a statement. We have an alternative for you. We have something that will not only work for you, but you’re on the green side of the ticket as well.”

The event featured four ZAP models—a blue car, a red pickup truck and two types of scooters—all of them electric. Except for the sound of tires on the pavement, the vehicles are essentially noiseless. There’s also no oil to change and no spark plug.

“Basically, it’s just the batteries, the alternator and the engine,” said one blond-haired ZAP representative, who despite being dressed in a dark suit and tie, didn’t look a day over 20 years old. “This is the first car where I think I could work on the engine myself.”

That’s one of ZAP’s selling points: The simple design makes it easier for ordinary people to make repairs and adjustments. Although the vehicles can’t be driven on freeways—they reach a top speed of around 40 mph—Bobby feels they will still work nicely for Sacramento residents, especially because many city-centered people can commute or run errands without having to hop on the freeway. Plus, he sees ZAP cars as filling a need.

“I noticed that some people are just looking for something a little bit smaller, better efficient on gas, and I thought it was a great idea, because there’s no one else really around in the area with those services,” he said.

The Scotts are optimistic about their electric-vehicle sales, and hope these cars will make a dent in reducing the high levels of greenhouse-gas emissions typically caused by cars.

Maybe used car salesmen aren’t all that bad.