The day after GM's bankruptcy filing, I get to drive the 2009 WheeGo Whip. (Please comment with as many jokes as possible about chains being optional...)
When one considers the national stereotype of General Motors (and of Detroit for that matter), this little car is about as "completely different" as one could get. The new Whip is green, efficient, and the product of a company led by ex-MindSpring entrepreneur, Mike McQuary. To Detroit outsiders,this is everything Detroit needs to become.
Be careful what you wish for.
The all-new electric car is currently certified as a neighborhood electric vehicle (with 25 mph and 35 mph versions released in different states depending on local regulations), but the company's American manufacturer, RTEV (Ruff & Tuff Electric Vehicles) hopes to have it certified as a highway capable vehicle pending DOT crash tests scheduled for 2010. Without a speed limiter in place, the Whip is said to be capable of 70 mph.
Looking a like a Chinese rip off of a smart for two, the basis for the $19,000 Whip is built off of The Shuanghuan Automobile Company's existing gasoline-powered Noble (no relation to the South African Noble that is a track star). RTEV has designed the car’s electric drive system, which uses plug-in dry cell sealed (AGM) batteries. The Whip will be partially built in China with final assembly here in the United States.
The Shuanghuan works are said to have the ability to build vehicles that meet the quality standards of American buyers. Having seen vehicles from Geely and BYD at the 2009 Detroit Auto Show, we know the Chinese have upped their quality game considerably in the last few years.
RTEV says that the Whip can travel 50 miles on single 8-hour charge, from any standard household 110 or 220v outlet.
Stay tuned for a drive report and more insights from the company. I promise to Whip it good... (Anybody know where I left my Devo cassette?)