San Francisco Chronicle: Zap charging its way in to China’s EV market

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Chalk up another one for Zap in the race to enter China’s electric car market.

The small Santa Rosa EV maker has just signed a deal with Shanghai officials to provide charging stations, battery swap facilities and maintenance depots for the city’s commercial Yangpu district.

Zap will also develop a pilot Electric Vehicle Eco-City program involving the use of Zap vehicles in Yangpu’s bus, taxi and government fleets. Sales and marketing offices and R&D centers will be located there.

CEO Steven Schneider was traveling on business and not available for comment Monday, but Jim Wunderman, president of the Bay Area Council, called it “a major milestone for the Bay Area’s electric vehicle industry.”

Earlier this year, Zap acquired a 51 percent stake in Jonway Automobile, a Chinese car and motorcycle manufacturer, in a $120 million deal approved by the Chinese government in October.

The combined company, called Zap Jonway, is planning to ramp up production next year, primarily at a 3.6 million-square-foot plant in China’s eastern coastal province of Zhejiang. Other assets acquired by Zap include 500 Jonway dealerships across the country.

Connections pay: The deal was first broached during Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger‘s trade mission to Asia in September, which included a stop in Shanghai, where he was accompanied by Bay Area Council executives. The council’s recently opened Shanghai office introduced Zap executives to the right people there and helped negotiate the deal.

“This is a great example of what connecting California innovators with governments and businesses around the world can do,” Schwarzenegger said. “As a direct result, Zap is breaking barriers in exporting clean technology from California to China.”

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