As many now know, early efforts to figure out how to make a useable electric car were maliciously thwarted to keep the oil industry in power for just a bit longer. The GM EV1 – one of the earliest production EVs – was systematically rounded up and destroyed in the early 2000s. It turns out the EV1 wasn’t the only EV that got sold and then quickly recalled and destroyed. The Mysterious and Extremely rare 2006 Zap Xebra met a similar fate, at least, all but one that was recently found on Facebook Marketplace for $850.
The Zap Xebra is a rare and mysterious EV
The EV marketplace has changed a bit since 2006. What once was a segment ruled by shadowy figures constantly introducing and then quickly destroying low-volume, mysterious cars is now a quickly-growing, mainstream market full of promise.
The Drive reports that one of these low-volume mysterious early EVs just turned up on Facebook marketplace even though the government attempted to hunt down and destroy every one of them. The fugitive in question is a 2006 Zap Xebra.
What is a Zap Xebra?
The Zap Xebra is a strange little three-wheeled EV that few drivers ever got the misfortune of experiencing. Not only was Xebra on the earlier end of EVs it was also a painfully low-quality machine that only had three wheels. The three-wheeler is an idea that many in the automotive world have tried, and all have failed. It simply doesn’t work if you still want to be alive after you drive it.
Aside from missing a wheel, the Zap Xebra was made so poorly that some aspects of it were actually kind of funny. The Drive mentions hooks still attached to the frames after painting and jagged bodywork finished with tin snips. So, in 2013, when federal regulators mandated that all 691 Xebra vehicles be bought back by the company in the wake of intractable braking issues, this didn’t shock many owners.
How did this one escape the crusher?
Zap was ordered to pay $3100 to owners and destroy the vehicles as part of the ruling. Sound familiar? However, just because the government ruled them all to be crushed, not all of them met their boxy end. The NHTSA website notes that complaints suggest that Zap and the government weren’t overly thorough in their search to destroy all the little Xebras.
How much is this rare EV worth?
That is a good question, indeed. It’s important to note that although this car is super rare, it isn’t necessarily valuable. The same braking issues that lead to the model’s demise are likely even worse with this example than ever before.
The Facebook marketplace listing has plenty of photos of the decrepit little three-wheeler. Despite its low quality, it has still seen better days. The center console has been removed, the interior is covered in trash and debris, and the car is in no way capable of running and/or driving. Not that it was ever really capable of running, considering it topped at 40 mph and only 40 miles of range. The little Xebra was powered by six 12V lead-acid batteries.
This raggedy little EV needs the works. If anyone is thinking of snatching up the cheap three-wheeler, just understand the can of worms likely to be opened. Either way, this little bigger is a super cool link in the EV evolutionary chain. Though we don’t recommend anyone tries to drive this thing, it would likely be a decent investment for the future or at least a fun conversation piece.