Local company rolls out new electric wheels

Tucked away in a warehouse on Industrial Road is the Peninsula’s newest electric-car showroom, where customers can test-drive and buy scooters, sedans and trucks made by Zap.

Local and regional leaders turned out Thursday to check out the pint-size, electric-powered vehicles, which retail for $10,000 to $12,000 and reach speeds of 45 miles per hour. In the next two to three years, Zap hopes to roll out faster, freeway-legal cars, including a family car, an SUV and a sports car co-designed by Lotus, called the Alias.

Zap isn’t the first electric-car company to land in San Carlos. Tesla Motors, whose high-end all-electric sports car is expected to enter production next year, opened its headquarters here in 2006.

“These companiesknow San Carlos is a good location, and friendly to green business and technology,” Assemblymember Ira Ruskin, D-Redwood City, said.

In recent months, San Carlos has helped its residents score discounts on solar panels for their homes and has seen the creation of San Carlos Green, a community task force devoted to environmentally friendly practices. Allied Waste, whose facility is in San Carlos, retrofitted its fleet of 225 garbage trucks to run on biodiesel rather than petroleum-based fuel.

“Everyone is looking for ways to green their business,” said Sheryl Pomerenk, president of the San Carlos Chamber of Commerce.

In addition, many are looking for ways to green their cities. Belmont leaders announced this week that they will seek an incentive program for residents who buy low-emission vehicles. Ruskin sponsored a bill this year that would offer rebates to car buyers who choose cleaner models and force those who buy high-emissions vehicles a surcharge — and hopes to return with the bill in 2008.

While all the good green-vehicle tech is good for the environment, it may also be good for San Carlos’ eastern side, which is slowly transforming from an industrial-only zone into one that offers everything from winemaking at Domenico Cellars to medical care when Palo Alto Medical Foundation builds its hospital later this decade. Some in the city would like to see Industrial Road become a “green” destination.

“The opening of this showroom highlights opportunities in San Carlos,” said Mayor Tom Davids. “We’ve expressed interest in bringing green business here, and as word gets out, I hope we will become a real focus point.”

bwinegarner@examiner.com

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