NHTSA Sets Hearing on ZAP Imported Electric Vehicles

The Oct. 9 public hearing in Washington, D.C., concerns three-wheeled electric vehicles and whether the importer provided proper notification of non-compliance with safety standards.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has announced it will conduct an Oct. 9 public hearing about model year 2008 ZAP Xebra three-wheeled electric vehicles imported from China by ZAP JONWAY, a Santa Rosa, Calif., company, and whether the importer provided proper notification of non-compliance with safety standards. NHTSA's notice included a lengthy account of the case, which involves alleged non-compliance with Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 122, motorcycle braking systems. It says NHTSA tested one of the vehicles in 2008 and found it did not comply with the standard because its brakes could not stop the motorcycle from 30 mph within the required distance in two effectiveness tests. Other non-compliance matters involved master cylinder reservoirs, reservoir labeling, and lack of a failure indicator lamp to notify the rider of pressure failure or low fluid.

NHTSA assigned recalls numbers for these in 2009, and ZAP reported 691 vehicles were subject to the recalls, according to the notice.

The account in the notice indicates ZAP recently proposed to fix the problems either by sending each customer an installation kit or having customers send their vehicles to ZAP's Santa Rosa location so the company could perform the repair. The repair involves raising the vehicle on a lift, removing its wheels, and then replacing brake cylinders, brake pressure sensors, brake lines, and brake pads, installing a valve, and rewiring brake sensors and floats, the notice states.

"Over three years has passed since ZAP initially recalled the MY 2008 ZAP Xebra," it says. "Although ZAP continues to elect a repair remedy, it has failed to successfully repair any vehicles. Moreover, contrary to its representation, under oath, in response to NHTSA's Special Order, ZAP has provided no evidence that it has developed a repair remedy that would bring the recalled vehicles into full compliance with FMVSS No. 122."

As a result, NHTSA has scheduled the public hearing, it states. The hearing will begin at 10 a.m. EDT in the Oklahoma City room of the DOT Conference Center, 1200 New Jersey Ave. SE.

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