Our San Francisco dealer, Ellis Brooks Auto Center, lined up a few Wheegos
at Justin Herman Plaza so commuters coming off the ferry could take a look.
Hundreds of people stopped, asked questions and took pictures of the
This month’s question for Wheego CEO Mike McQuary is:
Q: Are you going to offer leather seats as an option in the full-speed
McQ: People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) approached us
with this question, and after some consideration, we have decided not to offer
genuine leather in the interior of the FSV. For a car and company centered
on being environmentally responsible, we want to do the right thing. The
production process for leather is pretty challenging on the environment.
Fortunately, synthetic “leather” has come a long way. The material we have
chosen for the seats of the Wheego Whip LiFe looks like leather, feels like
leather, wears like leather… but it’s not (a duck). Here is how our PETA
contact responded to our decision: “We’re just ecstatic over here to learn
of Wheego’s easy decision not to use any animal products in your vehicles!
We can’t thank you enough for this compassionate and progressive choice.
I can say that Wheego has instantly gained a lot of fans over here at PETA!
Again, on behalf of all animals killed for their skins, thank you for
Wheego’s kindhearted decision!”
I just hope the PETA folks buy some cars.
If you have a question you’d like McQ to answer, please email it to
Wheego Tire Pressure
Did you know that under-inflated tires can negatively affect your Wheego’s
range? Please check your tires and make sure they are inflated to the
State Tax Credits
The Federal Tax Credit dropped to 10% in 2010 for an LSV (still $7500 for
the full-speed Wheego Whip Life). Many states are offering aggressive State
Tax Credits for all-electric vehicles. The U.S. Department of Energy offers a
list of benefits by state: http://www.afdc.energy.gov/afdc/laws/state
First Reviews of Full-Speed Car
Jim Motavalli, reporter for Mother Nature Network, took the first media test
drive in a prototype of the Wheego Whip LiFe, our full-speed car (it was
snowing in Atlanta for the test drive!) He loved the Wheego, and his reviews
are showing up across the web. Here is what was published on BNET:
Tiny Wheego Gets Big Jump on the Electric-Car
Photo: Jim Motavalli
Can an electric vehicle startup with just five employees find success in the
cash-intensive, cutthroat automotive world? Maybe, if the five people have
deep business experience, a savvy marketing sense and a compelling product.
And that just might be the case with Atlanta-based Wheego, which will get a
highway-capable electric car on the road as early as June, ahead of Fisker,
Coda, Think, GM and Nissan. If the two-seat lithium-ion battery car passes
crash tests, it will be on sale for approximately $32,000 at (the company
hopes) 50 dealerships across the country.
I was the first journalist to drive the car, known as the Wheego Whip Life, on
the snowy streets of Atlanta. I enjoyed the quiet, squeak-free operation, the
ultra-tight turning radius, and the nicely appointed (but not luxurious) interior.
Like most EVs, the car features very quick acceleration, but this one also
exhibited good regenerative braking response and generally good
ergonomics. I experienced some wheelspin, a factor both of the wet roads
and the light front end; the company plans to address this by moving the
heavy battery pack forward.
The Life is a variation on a Chinese-made gasoline car (with a strong styling
parallel to the Smart fortwo
) called the Noble
, which has not been a big
success. For that reason, when Wheego CEO Mike McQuary came
calling at the Shuanghuan
factory two hours outside of Beijing, the
management was ready to make a deal to convert the Noble to battery power.
The Life will have a range of 80 to 90 miles , and a top speed of about 67.
It’s a logical extension of the low-speed vehicle (LSV) version of the Whip,
which looks much the same but is speed-governed to 35 mph and is not
allowed on interstates. Despite these restrictions, Wheego has managed to
sell almost 300 LSV Whips—many in the state of Oklahoma, where a
combination of generous state and federal tax credits meant that, until
January 1, consumers could buy them for an astonishing $2,500.
“Our ambition has never been to be the biggest and sell the most,” McQuary Watch video clip of Mike McQuary interview.
said. “We’re trying to create an affordable, best-in-class electric car, form a
community and have a dialogue with our drivers [who already get regular
newsletters].” He said the company would be satisfied if it sells 2,000
Wheego Whip Lifes in the first year.
McQuary is anything but an auto industry lifer. He has an interesting back
story. He joined MindSpring in 1995 and stuck with it through a merger with
EarthLink in 1999. The combined entity became the second-largest
national ISP behind AOL, with McQuary as president. As he tells it, he left
EarthLink after failing to convince the company to start an online music store
to service what became Apple’s iPod. McQuary founded Brash Music
, an independent label
, in 2002. McQuary brought two of his
MindSpring/EarthLink colleagues over to Wheego, a spinoff of
Ruff & Tuff
Electric Vehicles (which makes plug-in ATVs in the $7,000 to $13,000
range). McQuary also brought in Jeff Boyd
as president. Boyd is an
experienced auto executive; he is a veteran of Roger Penske’s company
and Miles Electric Vehicles
, which is launching the Coda
later this year.
“We are running a very lean operation that allows us to put most of our money
into R&D and technology instead of overhead,” Boyd said. “An advantage of
our size is that we can be extremely nimble, but the car will have to stand or
fall on its own.”
According to Boyd, Wheego will follow the Life with a small four-door
crossover SUV in 2011, a utility truck for commercial use and fleets in 2012,
and a sports roadster in 2013. The goal, he said, is to keep the price below
$30,000 (before tax incentives) for all the models.
You can read more from Jim Motavalli at: