Wheego Whip EV Function Follows Form Autopia Wired com

15 Апр 2014 | Author: | Комментарии к записи Wheego Whip EV Function Follows Form Autopia Wired com отключены
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Wheego Whip EV: Function Follows Form

The Wheego Whip is a car any true motorhead would consider to be punishment meted out by Al Gore to make us atone for the Dodge Viper. The little electric car is slow. It s heavy.

And frankly, it isn t much to look at.

But the Whip is a pretty good commuter car that will do a fine job hauling you around town in something approximating comfort and convenience. We spent some time behind the wheel and can say the Whip is neighborhood electric EV with acceptable range and a reasonable recharge time. It also costs $18,995. Yikes.

Even after the federal tax credit, you re looking at 12 grand.

Price aside, the Whip is a real EV made for the real world, provided you recognize its limitations.

The first thing you notice about the Whip is it looks a lot like the Smart fortwo. But that s where the similarity ends. Everything about the Whip is unique to the Whip, and the car shares nothing at all with its more famous doppelganger.

Although the Whip undergoes final assembly at the company s factory in California, it is an endeavor in diversified manufacturing. The chassis, made in China, is based on the Smart-like Noble platform from Shuanghuan Automobile. Other bits and pieces such as suspension components, brakes and the like are sourced from hither and yon.

The motor, drive-train controller and electronic components are designed, engineered and manufactured here in America.

The Wheego uses a brushless AC motor that puts out 17.5 horsepower (40 peak) and an impressive 110 pound-feet of torque. Power comes from a dozen 8-volt Discover GC8 Advanced Glass Mat sealed lead-acid batteries. Total output is 16.32 kilowatt-hours.

Inside, the car looks like any entry-level commuter car. There s space for two adults and their luggage. The car has a long list of amenities, including air conditioning, a stereo system, power windows and locks and, of course, the obligatory cup holders. What it doesn t have is much in the way of instrumentation, because it doesn t need it.

There s a speedo that tops out at 45 mph, a charge indicator and a gauge that tells you if you re in forward or reverse.

The interior is made out of plastic. Lots and lots of plastic. Nothing out of the ordinary there; automakers have been using plastic for decades. But we re talking about a commuter car, so the quality and finish of the plastics is on the cheap side. That said, the car is reasonably comfortable, and everything about it is pretty much spot-on for an urban runabout.

The gauges are easy to see, everything falls right to hand and apart from the gear shift lever being too short, the Whip is very functional right off the bat.

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Through the good graces of the company we had a chance to mercilessly flog the Wheego Whip through San Francisco traffic, and it dealt adequately with rough pavement, pot holes, trolley tracks and that most fearsome of all SF traffic nightmares: Tourists along The Embarcadero.

It s not a light car, at 3,600 pounds (the batteries weigh 60 pounds apiece), nor does it accelerate like a sports car. We didn t break out a stopwatch, but we informally clocked the car at 8 seconds from zero to 35 mph. That s a about a tick and a half or so behind the Smart EV available later this year. Its road manners are surprisingly car-like, given that so many early attempts at neighborhood electric vehicles have felt like golf carts, if not rickety deathtraps.

The chassis does flex noticeably, especially torsionally, on pavement irregularities, but the turn is quite good. The brakes are standout performers. Regenerative braking really helps all the little guy down from speed, especially when you consider how much weight it s fighting against.

Although the car is reasonably attractive in a European microcar kind of way and reasonably comfortable in a subcompact kind of way, we see two issues that could keep it from catching on. The first is range. The Whip goes 40 miles on a charge, but we ll have to take the company s word for it because we didn t drive it long enough to drain the battery. Company officials say they re working on a new battery that will increase range to 100 miles by the time the car goes on sale in June. The range issue aside, Wheego says the battery will recharge in 7 or 8 hours essentially overnight when plugged into a 110 volt outlet.

Plug it into a 220 and you re looking at half that time. Wheego says the Whip costs about 3 cents per mile to operate.

That s good, because you re going to need the savings in fuel to pay for the car. At $18,995 ($11,495 after the $7,,500 tax credit), the Whip is frightfully expensive for what it is a neighborhood electric vehicle with a top speed of 35 mph. Whether you think that s too much to pay for a car with no tailpipe emissions depends upon whether you think the Dodge Viper is awesome or abhorrent.

UPDATE: Sept. 3: The Wheego Whip qualifies for the $7,500 federal tax credit for electric vehicles, which brings the price down to $11,495.

Photos: Jon Snyder / Wired.com

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