Wheego has been under the radar while all the attention and headlines about electric cars has focused on Tesla, Fisker and the Nissan Leaf and the Chevrolet Volt, even though the Volt isn’t an EV at all, but a plug-in extended range hybrid.
Wheego makes two-passenger sub-compact EVs that are about the same size and style as the Smartfortwo. Wheego is a US-based company, with headquarters in Atlanta. The new Wheego LiFe, introduced at the 2010 Los Angeles Auto Show last week, is the full speed, street-legal version of the Wheego Whip, which has been on the market for a couple of years as an NEV, or ‘neighborhood electric vehicle’, for streets and roads with speed limits up to 35mph.
The Wheego LiFe has passed a full round of federal safety crash tests, and is approved for highway driving. The LiFe can reach speeds of 70mph and travel for 100 miles between charges.
The LiFe has an upgraded lithium iron battery. Iron, not ion. Which is how it got its name — the Li is for lithium and the Fe is for the symbol for iron. It’s a play on words. Very cute. Just like the Wheego, which I test drove in New York City last year. That was the Whip, which accelerated confidently and stopped on the proverbial dime, all with totally silent ignition and operation.
I was driving with Mike McQuarry, who founded the company. He’s an admitted treehugger, and a computer geek who founded Mindspring and — like Elon Musk who founded Tesla Motors — poured many of his own millions into launching Wheego.
The Wheego LiFe is priced at $32,995, around the same price as the Nissan Leaf. Both qualify for a $7,500 federal electric car incentive, plus state incentives.
The Wheego LiFe is assembled in Ontario, Canada. Although the chassis and body are made in China, most of the rest of the car parts are domestic. McQuarry told me 27 of his 30 suppliers are American companies.
The car is being sold through traditional dealerships across the country, including in California, Georgia, Hawaii, Michigan, Florida and Washington.
- Click here to read more about the Wheego electric car