APX concept to form basis of new American electric car
30 January 2007

First the Tesla, now the ZAP-X - a new Lotus-based electric car that is to make its debut at the North American Dealers Association show next week.

While the Tesla's structure is based on that of the Lotus Elise, the ZAP concept borrows Lotus's advanced APX chassis, which shows off the firm's Versatile Vehicle Architecture. First revealed at the Geneva motor show in 2006, the APX (Aluminium Performance Crossover) is not your usual Lotus. It seats seven, and has some off-road ability.

ZAP (Zero Air Pollution) is a US-based company that aims to produce a viable electric car with off-road capability and a good touring range. Though Lotus's original APX concept used a supercharged 3.0-litre V6, the ZAP version will replace this with in-wheel electric motors. Theoretically, ZAP claims that these will provide 635bhp and a top speed of 155mph.

Crucially for an electric car, ZAP claims its vehicle will take only 10 minutes to recharge, and have a 350-mile range, with an auxiliary power unit for longer journeys. There's no word on the batteries yet, though ZAP says they will be placed where the petrol engine would normally go, making for a practical vehicle.

ZAP is currently the maker of the only electric car and truck on sale in the US, but it will need every bit of Lotus's extensive know-how to get the ZAP-X into production. Lotus, meanwhile, is awaiting news of its new owner – parent company Proton is currently in talks with Volkswagen, which is believed to be buying the Malaysian car company and its Norfolk subsidiary.

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