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June 11, 2007

Electric Car Has Me Looking For a Place to Get Zapped


You’re used to it with your laptop. You’re used to it with your cell phone. You tout it all over the place, enjoying the mobile liberty that comes with today’s communication technology.


It is wherever you want it to be. Until . . . the battery goes dead. Then you’ll stop at nothing to get access to an electrical outlet. If you don’t charge those devices, and quick, your productivity is done for the day.


I’ve gotten pretty good at this. They stick outlets in the darndest places. Libraries often have them on their exterior walls. Those restroom buildings in public parks? Check under the drinking fountain. That’s 110 volts of dynamite, just waiting for your plug.


But are you ready to go through this routine with your car? ZAP Power Systems is betting that you are, and Domino’s Pizza is the first to put a real charge in pizza delivery.


ZAP, which stands for Zero Air Pollution, makes the latest line of electric cars. Oh, they make ethanol and hybrid vehicles too, but who cares about those? It’s the electric cars that caught the interest of Domino’s during a recent convention in Las Vegas. That’s where ZAP dressed up a bunch of its electric vehicles with Domino’s logos, which promptly used them throughout the convention to deliver pizzas around town.


No gas usage! Just electricity! Because of course, they hardly use any electricity in Las Vegas, except for the fact that they put lights on everything from buildings to trees to your great uncle’s butt. What’s a few more watts?


Up until now, electric cars could go a maximum of 40 miles per hour and couldn’t go farther than 25 miles without having to be plugged into a special electric charger you could only find in a specially certified facility that could only be managed by a descendent of Benjamin Franklin. Bit of a problem.


But ZAP claims to have solved this. Its latest electric car can supposedly go as fast as 155 miles per hour and can go as far as 350 miles before you have to recharge it, which is only supposed to take 10 minutes.


Best of all, you can plug it into an ordinary electrical outlet! That’s right. Just like your blender. Plug in your car, wait 10 minutes and you can drive from New Jersey to Virginia. No stopping for gas, baby! Just drive.


OK, now if you’re using this car to deliver pizzas around town, it seems like a no-lose proposition. Grab a pie, head over to Sprinklespeezle Blvd., come back, plug in while you wait for the next pizza to be done, and head over to Dweezilzappa Lane. You’ll never run out. You can plug your car into the power strip right behind that pop machine in the pizza store. Customers might start to notice that there are always six or seven extension cords being strung out the door, but what do they care as long as the pizza’s good, and they don’t accidentally electrocute themselves stepping on one?


Longer trips might be a bit more of a problem.


It won’t do you any good to stop for gas, but when you stop at the rest stop . . . well, like I said, check under the drinking fountain and you’ll probably find a place to plug in. Go pee, get some pork rinds out of the vending machine and let Mr. Extension Cord do the rest. You’ve got enough juice to make it to North Carolina now.


No more paying $3 and up for gas, that’s for darn sure! Then again, who pays for the electricity? Now, granted, when I “borrow” electricity for my laptop from the library or the coffee shop, I do not offer to settle up on the utility bill before heading out. They’re usually happy if I get a muffin to go with my coffee. They’ll cover the BTUs.


But when people are stopping every few minutes and plugging in to your wall outlet for the purpose of fueling up? Is that part of the understood social compact by which you’re just expected to cover it?


Someone is going to find a way to make some money off this. Toilets are free. Maps are free. You want to plug in? Insert 50 cents for the next 100 volts!


And don’t even think about charging your cell phone! Whaddaya think we’re made of power around here?


By the way, you might want to be careful about driving the ZAP through puddles, and when you reach your destination and your hair is standing straight up like you rubbed it with a balloon, just think, the same thing probably happened to old Ben Franklin. And he was ahead of his time, you know, since before he went flying his kite, he reached for his keys!


© 2007 North Star Writers Group. May not be republished without permission.


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