Wheego Whip Review
Written by Sophia Schmidt
All the World's a Blur in the Wheego Whip
Cruising around for the first time in the Wheego Whip, a two-seater that's all electric, all plug-in, my brain suffered from a bit of whiplash- but that's only in jest because almost everything in this electric vehicle has the true look and feel of a standard gas-powered car.
Certainly on the way over to test drive the prototype, I couldn't help but notice that the neighborhood coffee spot in this part of the city is aptly named "Octane". With the way Wheego is headed, this might be the only spot that sells leaded and unleaded fuel in the area.
While the Wheego Whip is actually categorized among other vehicles in the neighborhood electric vehicle (NEV) or LSV (low speed vehicle) arena, it is made from a steel frame by Shuanghuan Automobile with real car doors with great working power windows and a nice set of windshield wipers, all adding up to a real car feel.
Performance and Speed
The car had great acceleration from a standstill position and definitely held its own in city traffic. It easily soared up to 35 miles per hour and the speedometer hinted more than a few times that it could hit over 40. And, steep hills were of no consequence to the Whip. This makes sense because the guys over at Wheego intentionally began their pursuit of an all-electric vehicle from the vantage point of building a highway-rated automobile a year or two down the road from now.
The turning radius of the Whip was nice and tight, something you'd expect for a traditional two-seater and certainly an advantage to other NEVs on the road today, which have a much wider gait. Somewhat disappointing was the limited effect of the shocks, which could be a bit striking when driving in certain city areas; and the braking system of this little electric car that regenerates energy back into the battery seems to brake a little harder than the standard gas-powered car, but in-line with other hybrids like the Honda Insight and Toyota Prius.
Adding to the Wheego Whip's appeal is its body style which is pleasing from all vantage points and a grade or two above the Toyota Prius electric and gas hybrid body style. Most appealing are the side and front view points with the headlights, windshield and hood blending into a very pleasing European-looking sight, aka SmartCar, coming down the road. The driver and passenger side mirrors seemed a bit convex, although this could be because it was a prototype drive (the interior mirror was actually very attractively shaped and gave a great rearview vantage point.) The plug-in feature for the electric vehicle is found on the side toward the back of the car, which is in the same spot as you'd expect to find the opening for a gas nozzle insert. In fact the cover plate looks just like a gas-powered vehicle.
Overall the interior of the Wheego Whip is quite impressive, especially when considering the limited time this company has been in existence to pull all of the components together. The 3-way adjustable bucket seats set the tone for the sporty feel interior. The seats were comfortable and made of a honeycomb web fabric for the center panel and charcoal and gray panels along the sides. The interior door panels were still in prototype form and it's likely that the cloth material in this ride will be replaced with a more durable and stain-resistant choice for final production.
Adding to this electric car's sporty ambiance is the dashboard. The blue and black speedometer offset with the stark white background adds a bit of flair and is similar to the Mini Cooper's E-mini interior style. The JVC sound system uses speakers in the doors and tweeters on the front dash to fill the space. Along with quality sound, there were several spaces for your commuter coffee mugs to rest between sips. Heat and AC units were unavailable in the prototype but we hear that the air-conditioning unit takes a cue from the data storage industry see Wheego Whip Delivers in July .
Energy efficiency indicator lights are laid out like a horizontal drag-racing light tree. The three green lights indicate how efficiently you are driving the car and move into yellow and red as you drive less efficiently, which is certainly helpful in understanding how much energy you have left in your batteries. The steering wheel was very comfortable, although it lacks telescoping abilities. Lastly and most impressively, is the trunk space. Groceries for a flight squadron can be easily stowed in the back and the space is sizable enough for a large golden retriever to comfortable stand up. This feature alone could be a solid selling point for anyone looking to right-size their commuting car.
Option-wise, the Wheego Whip today is fairly limited. The first introduction will focus on the charcoal interior described and it's yet-to-be determined if other color options will make their way, but this leaves one with a very attractive electric car.
Even though the Wheego Whip is recognized as a NEV or LSV (low-speed electric vehicle), seat belts are standard features for this car. The unibody steel frame is certainly among the most solid two-seater offering in the low-speed electric vehicle category. Airbags will be added to the Wheego's intended highway-rated car model in the next year or two.
The AGM (Advanced Glass Mat) batteries store 96 volts through 12 separate units which gives the driver 40hp at peak, which is plenty for this car's intended use. This is the first battery iteration for the Wheego Whip and it can be converted down the road to better performing systems. The standard charger allows for a full charge from dead of about 8 hours with a 6 hour charge for about 70 percent. Battery life for the standard user is expected to be about eight years.
Overall Driving Impressions
The Wheego Whip was a very comfortable and peppy 2-seater electric car ride. It looks, feels and drives just like a car, with the exception of the engine sound and realistically none of your neighbors would know the difference until you pull out your plug to charge it at night. There are a 1-year parts and service warranty and a 2-year warranty on parts for the Whip, giving purchasers peace of mind with this latest electric car.
Initial delivery of the cars are set to begin this summer in late July.
Price, Fill-Up Costs and the Lot
Wheego Whips retail for $19,995 before any government tax credits. Annual electric charging costs are about $450 for 15,000 miles, or three cents per mile. Wheego Whip battery replacement cost is about $2700 for all twelve batteries, although battery costs will likely come down over time.
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