LA Auto Show EV newcomers Wheego and Coda provide alternatives to Nissan Leaf

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Wheego LiFE Electric Cars

LA Auto Show: EV newcomers Wheego and Coda provide alternatives to Nissan Leaf

The ongoing electrification of the car is stimulating America’s entrepreneurial spirit. Startups Fisker and Tesla Motors have gotten a lot of attention with their pricey electric models. Now, two new companies have surfaced at the 2010 LA Auto Show —Coda and Wheego—with small all-electric cars aimed at mainstream buyers and innovative approaches to selling them.

Wheego, based in Atlanta, will begin delivering a small, two-seat electric city car next month. It’s about the same size as the Smart ForTwo and is called the Wheego LiFe, a clever take on the elemental symbols of its battery technology: lithium (li) and iron (fe).

The LiFe will retail for $32,995, which is similar to the price of the Nissan Leaf. The $7,500 electric-car federal tax incentive would bring that down to about $25,500. The company says the car will travel 100 miles on a full charge, go up to 70 mph, and takes eight hours to recharge on a 220-volt circuit (about 20 hours on a 110V circuit). While the chassis and body are built in China, Wheego says that 75 percent of the car’s content is American, as are 27 of its 30 suppliers.

The LiFe is assembled in Ontario, California.

The car will be sold through traditional auto dealerships throughout the country. More than 20 dealers are signed on so far in states such as California, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Michigan, Washington, and the Northeast. The full dealer list is on the company’s website, www.wheego.net.

Customers can also order the LiFe online and have it shipped to them.

Coda, which is based in Santa Monica, CA, plans to begin selling a small four-door, five-passenger sedan in California in the second half of 2011. Its set, no-haggle price will be $44,000 before tax incentives. The federal and California incentives of $7,500 and $5,000, respectively, would drop this to $31,500.

In the meantime, a $499 deposit will hold one for you.

Wheego LiFE Electric Cars

The company says the car will go 90 to 120 miles on a full charge, and its lithium-iron phosphate battery can be recharged in six hours with an onboard 220-volt charger. Instead of using traditional auto dealerships, the Coda Sedan will be sold through stores. A representative said that such a store could be located in a mall and that test drives could be conducted in, say, the parking lot. (Hmm. We recommend spending at least 30 minutes test driving a car on a variety of roads before buying.)


The car could also be ordered online at www.codaautomotive.com. Either way, each owner would be assigned a personal valet that would be the owner’s contact for all things Coda while you own the car. This includes assessing your electrical needs, assisting with permitting and installation of any upgrades, delivering the car, and being on call to provide help with questions or problems.

As with the Wheego, the sedan’s chassis and body are built in China, with final assembly in California. Coda says that about 35 percent of the vehicle’s components are manufactured in the United States.

Keep an eye here for updates on these and other new EVs as the electric-car era continues to gain momentum.

See our guide to fuel economy for advice on saving gasoline. Learn about future technologies in our guide to alternative fuels .

Wheego LiFE Electric Cars
Wheego LiFE Electric Cars
Wheego LiFE Electric Cars
Wheego LiFE Electric Cars
Wheego LiFE Electric Cars
Wheego LiFE Electric Cars

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