Is the latest Zap announcement announcement another reborn Lotus?

It's speculation time again. Zap has announced that they will be making an announcement next month about another proposed electric vehicle. Based on what we know about Zap, what kind of vehicle might this be? With the $30,000 price target and Zap's limited resources to develop a vehicle, it will almost assuredly be based on something that already exists, much like the Zap-X is supposed to be based on the Lotus APX concept.

That brings up the question of what platform might be available for Zap to use? Based on Zap's history so far and those limited resources the company is likely to lean toward a three wheeler. As Zap's Alex Campbell explained in a video with Matt Kelly of the Next Gear, they like the three wheel configuration because it's classed as a motorcycle and doesn't have to be crashed tested or meet any crash standards.

Continue reading about what might be after the jump.
As Tesla and other car manufacturers know,meeting modern crash test standards is no easy matter and is a very expensive proposition. Don't forget what happened when the Indian built Reva EV was crash tested recently in England. The idea of producing another three wheeler would seem obvious, but the question is what vehicle to use. Zap CEO Steve Schnieder has already said he wanted to expand the company's relationship with Lotus.

Some searching around on the web brings up a report and some spy photos from spring 2006 indicating that Lotus was working with Volkswagen on their GX3 trike that was shown at the January 2006 Los Angeles Auto Show. The response to the GX3 was so enthusiastic that Volkswagen had said they were going to evaluate putting the vehicle into limited production. However a couple of months after the spy photos appeared Volkswagen announced that they would not pursue building the GX3 because of safety concerns.

Lotus has a strict client confidentiality policy, refusing to ever comment on the work that they do for many of the world's car makers. As such they declined to discuss the GX3. Volkswagen spokesman Keith Price did answer a few questions regarding the GX3. He confirmed that Lotus did indeed help VW with some of the prototype work on the GX3, however the GX3 was a Volkswagen design and Lotus has no rights to use the GX3 as the basis for any other vehicle program.

So the GX3 will not be directly evolved into a new Zap vehicle, at least not with Volkswagen's consent. However, that doesn't mean the concept can't inspire another vehicle, in this case a wheel-motor driven, lithium-battery powered two-seat trike. Any lessons the Lotus engineers learned about the handling dynamics of such a vehicle could be applied to a new Zap trike. So even though the GX3 likely won't be reborn, lessons learned from it may be applied if Zap's new vehicle ever moves beyond the concept sketch stage.

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