By Kurtis Ming

NORTH HIGHLANDS (CBS13) — Mike Rowden said his electric car is too dangerous to drive — at least according to the manufacturer.

But the company has yet to fix it or cut him a check he was promised by the end of 2013.

Rowden spent more than $12,000 on his green, three-wheeled car from ZAP in 2008, trying to cut down on his dependence on fossil fuels.

“I’m realizing now this was not a good investment,” he told Call Kurtis.

That’s because here his car is sitting in his driveway collecting dust, after ZAP sent him a notice in September
saying, “You should not be driving your ZAP vehicle.”

ZAP is recalling the 2008 Xebra vehicles over a brake issue that “may result in a crash,” according to the notice sent to owners like Rowden.

“It does me no good to sit here in my driveway,” he said. “Absolutely zero.”

ZAP said it would buy back the cars, agreeing to pay claims by Dec. 31, 2013.

But Rowden hasn’t been paid, and said he can’t even get a call back.

“I just want an answer,” he said. “If it’s gonna take until August to do this, just tell me.”

Safety advocate Rosemary Shahan, who runs Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety, said when the government identifies a safety issue, typically they work with the manufacturer to voluntarily recall the car.

But in this case, the federal government had to sue ZAP over the dangerous brakes.

“Clearly they should have taken care of this right away,” she said. “That shows a real level of disrespect for us safety standards.”

We reached out to Santa Rosa-based ZAP, which didn’t explain why it missed its own deadline.

In a statement, spokesman Chuck Schillings said, “ZAP is currently in communication with NHTSA and the DOJ about a possible revised schedule for repurchasing the vehicles from eligible owners.”

“ZAP is in the process of contacting vehicle owners and repurchasing their vehicles at this time,” Schillings later added.

As Rowden waits for his money, he’s turned to a bicycle to get around without polluting.

Realizing ZAP only plans to pay Xebra owners $3,100 for their now useless cars, he’s warning others about the company.

“They don’t care one way or the other about their customers,” he said.

According to federal documents, ZAP sold between 600 and 700 units of this 2008 model.

As of this month, no accidents or injuries have been reported due to this brake problem.


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