For a long time she and Steve drove it everywhere...to the Park...to Steve's office (where they allowed him to plug it in during the day in front of the building as he worked because of its novelty)...to run errands. The three-wheeled vehicle co-piloted by the fluffy White Dog drew comments where ever they went.
The car was made in China and the American distribution system ran into troubles when safety tests forced a recall of nearly all of the braking system for the cars. The company never was able to fix the problem or get support to the local areas where cars with faulty systems waited. The government deemed the vehicles unsafe to drive. Suddenly, they could no longer be licensed or insured.
White Dog and Steve were heartbroken and for a long time keep our Electric Car plugged in and washed...at the ready should the opportunity come to make the repairs needed to revitalize the car. It never happened.
Instead, over a year ago we received a notice from the Zap! company that they had a solution...to purchase the cars that qualified for their Buy Back Program. We filled out the forms and received notice that we met the requirements. And that by the close of 2013 arrangements would be made to pick up the Xebra and its title in exchange for payment.
Nothing happened as December came and went. The company headquarters in California still had phone service but no one ever answered and messages left were never returned. Letters went without response as did emails. Steve assumed they had declared bankruptcy or taken some other legal sidestep to avoid responsibility. The Zap! sat on the drive and began to droop.
Then today, out of nowhere, we returned from shopping to a message from a local towing company saying that they needed our return call ASAP as they wanted to bring by a flatbed tow truck to pick up the car TONIGHT!
The truck arrived around 8pm; Steve and White Dog sat together on the front steps and watched their futuristic dream get loaded onto the truck. It was strapped in...and then just like that our personal commitment to non-petroleum based transportation was gone.
Steve put the cashier's check on the table and sat heavily. WD climbed into his lap. "Not the way I thought I would feel," Steve said to her as he thought of the endless frustration of the special car turned irritant. WD rested her head against him. "It is kind of sad, like the end of an era." I knew White Dog was thinking of how much had changed since those days when she was an only child and Steve had time for daily trips to the Park. Steve thought of the city's plans (never materialized) to build electric car recharging stations all over town. The flash and excitement of these vehicles has subsided. It is now a different wave of thinking despite the more than ever need to break away from gasoline use.
"I know," I suggested, "why don't you two go out and pick up some blueberries and ice cream so that we can give a tasty blue toast to Eco-Eskies, Car-loving husbands, and the little car that tried?"