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After more than five years out on his own, Jackson Long, 47, decided to leave his private practice to return in-house. In April, Long became the first general counsel at ZAP, a developer and distributor of low-emission, advanced-technology cars, scooters, bikes, and all-terrain vehicles. The Santa Rosa, California-based company emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in June 2002. Last year it lost $5.5 million during efforts to restructure. So why does Long want to join a struggling company? He says he has high hopes for ZAP, envisioning it as a major player in the automotive industry. Long also says he shares the company’s goals: to help the environment and lower the country’s dependence on fossil fuels. At the moment, he says, this vision is being realized by sacrificing profits. ZAP is currently developing a nationwide network of dealers to sell their high-efficiency, environmentally friendly vehicles. As GC, Long will put the finishing touches on this network and handle regulatory compliance issues with each state’s department of motor vehicles. Long calls ZAP’s dealer network “a work in progress” and says that working with so many state governments will be the greatest challenge in getting the program up and running. Automobile regulatory law isn’t unfamiliar territory for Long. He’ll draw on experience he gained working with the California DMV while he was the GC of H.G. Automotive Systems, Inc., a multifranchise auto retailer group, from 1994 to 1999. After leaving the company, Long focused his private practice on the retail automotive industry. Earlier this year ZAP announced a $10 million deal with SMART-Automobile LLC of Santa Ana, California, to become the exclusive U.S. distributor and licensed manufacturer of the company’s SMART Car, a fuel-efficient hybrid designed to get more than 60 miles per gallon. Despite a long trail of red ink, Long and other executives at ZAP are optimistic about the road ahead. “I think the company has emerged from the reorganization process in fine fettle,” Long says. “I have no reason to believe this company isn’t going to go forward at a rapid pace.”

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