Monday, March 09, 2009

 

I may buy one of these!

I've been toying with the idea of buying what is called a Neighborhood Electric Vehicle (NEV), an electric car with a legal top speed, in my state, of 35mph. Why you ask would I want something like that? Well, think about most of the trips you make with with a car, or at least those that I make, with my car. I don't usually go on roads with a speed limit over 35, although I do sometimes hop onto the freeway to avoid more concentrated traffic areas. Most of my trips are not over 12 or 14 miles, round trip. Short trips like these are hard on fuel powered vehicles and our VW is diesel powered so they are probably even harder on it. Last summer the price of diesel fuel here got to $4.999 per gallon although it is down now, just as gasoline is but I don't think that will last long. A car that costs pennies to charge the batteries sounds good. And it is good for the environment, at least here, where most of our electric power is generated by water power so there is no coal burned to make that juice.

Anyway, I started this out thinking about a Zap Xebra. Some friends who live in the Eugene, OR area have one and Deb says that she loves it. But, it is a 3-wheeled vehicle so is legally considered to be a motorcycle. I'd have to get a special motorcycle license and then add a trike endorsement, just to drive it, and almost no one else would be able to do so. Legally. I continued looking and found one called the Zenn, which I guess stands for Zero Emissions, No Noise. It is a two seat car but does have 4 wheels, so is considered a car. It is based on a small French made car that over there is gasoline powered. The body is shipped to Canada where it is set up with it's electric package. It looks pretty good but I did talk with a gal in Anacortes who owns one and she isn't too happy about the life of the batteries nor the help with her problems she has been getting from the manufacturer nor the dealer in Seattle. I have continued to look.

Yesterday, I found this (these photos were downloaded from the Wheego web site):
Wheego Whip 01
It is called the Wheego Whip and is from a company in Atlanta, GA. The body is made in China and shipped to California where the electric package is installed. They have a few on the road now and will start shipping them to customers in May. The price is about the same as the Zenn and unfortunately the dealer in Seattle is the same one, but hopefully the factory will be more supportive. I've exchanged email with them and they seem to respond quickly. Maybe that would continue after one buys a car from them.

Wheego Whip 12
Here is a photo of the interior. It is a two seater but they do look to be comfortable. There is a choice of outside color but all of the interiors are the same.

Wheego Whip 13
The instrument cluster is a bit different. The speedometer only goes to 40 but that is okay with a car that isn't supposed to be driven over 35 and most states limit them to 25. The other two gauges relate to the battery power and how much power you are using. The car does have an AM/FM radio with a CD player & a USB connection for MP3 files. It has most of the things you'd expect in a regular car like power doors with remote access, power windows, power adjusted outside mirrors. A/C is available but I would not need it living where I do but I will use the heater/defroster and the windshield wiper. The back opens up like a station wagon and there is a pretty good amount of storage space there which is over the batteries. So it is very practical for runs to the store, over for a mocha, etc. Almost everything you would do with a regular car but not to the gas station. It has AGM batteries and they say its range is about 40 miles although it will probably make 50, but all that depends on how you drive it, how many hills there and what the outside temperature is. Batteries don't work as well when it is cold as they do when they are warmer.

Wheego Whip 18
Here in this final photo you can see the "gas cap" door. The battery charger is built in and the extension cord plugs in here.

I have also found one called a BG that looks good, so I need to learn more about it.

If I buy one I will probably go ahead and sell my Saturn along with it's towing system and the brake system I use when pulling it with the RV. Then I'll need a toter trailer that I can drive the front wheels of either this car or our VW New Beetle to take along on RV trips. I will also have to start locating places where I can plug in to recharge while eating meals in restaurants, etc. Kind of a new way of thinking about getting around, but it sounds like fun and if fuel prices go back up to the $5 a gallon range, one that will be much easier to afford. Anyone want a low mileage clean 2000 Saturn SL1 that is all setup to tow behind a motorhome?

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Comments:
If the prices continue to go down for those electric cars I might consider buying one just to use in our small town. We've never bought a car because we couldn't really afford a car payment, gas, insurance and maintenance. It just may be feasible with an electric car some day.

Good luck, and let us know what you decide.

Have a great week, Dick. :o)

Love and hugs,

Diane
 
OOOH, it's so CUTE!

Ok, not a reason to buy one, but still...
 
Good for you Dick, that's a great idea!
 
Looks like a fun car! Would work fine where you live, too, just don't come down the freeway on it!
 
So cool... and you would be the coolest blog guy with that car..lol

Let us know!

Love, Jess

PS Hows the cats?
 
Interesting and I had never heard of these new things. Seems like for those who drive mostly in town, they might be good ideas.
 
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