Tuesday, May 05, 2009


Comparing two cars

I thought I would post similar photos of my Smart Car and the Wheego Whip that should be entering production this month. My car is a Smart 450 ForTwo, the original European model of the Smart Car. The Wheego Whip is an electric car based on a gasoline powered car that is built in China but imported to the US without an engine. An electric motor and battery pack is installed here and the car is sold as a Neighborhood Electric Vehicle (NEV) which in Washington State where I live is limited to a top speed of 35mph, but to 25mph in most states. The manufacturer says the car is capable of over 50mph and once the necessary tests have been completed they plan to ask to have that NEV limitation removed so the governor can be removed. The car will then be more useful as it could be operated on most roadways legally in the USA. It will still have the limitation of how far it can go on a battery charge and I expect the higher speed will lower that range which I believe is listed as about 40 miles now as a NEV. The Smart Car holds a little over 8 gallons of gasoline and mine gives mileage between 45 and 55mpg so it has a cruising range around 400 miles between fill ups. The Smarts currently being imported by Roger Penske do not get that good of mileage, probably closer to 38 - 40mpg I think, due to them being slightly larger & heavier as well as having a larger engine and a 5 speed transmission VS the 6 speed unit in mine. These newer cars are known as Smart 451 ForTwo cars.

Here is my car, the Smart Passion Coupe 450 ForTwo:
Compare my Smart Car
Compare Wheego Whip
And here is a similar view of the Wheego Whip.

Mercedes Benz, the maker of the Smart Car, sued this Chinese manufacturer in an attempt to keep the gasoline powered vehicles out of Germany, claiming that they were a virtual copy of the Smart Car. They lost in the German courts but the cars sure look a lot alike to me. The Chinese company said there were only so many things that a designer could do in coming up with a car of this size and that no one would ever mistake the two with the considerable difference in the price they sell for.

Here is an interior view of my Smart Car:
My Smart Car 04
Wheego Whip 13
And here is a similar view of the interior of the Wheego Whip.

These two cars look very similar to me and I can sure see why you might think the Chinese car is a copy of the European one. Many of the features appear virtually identical. But there is a lot of difference between them mechanically, at least this Wheego Whip version that is being sold in the USA. I think the currently imported Smart Passion Coupe is being sold for around $16,000 and the Wheego Whip was expected to sell for about $19,000 with production in the USA to start this month, in May. I don't know how the accessories compare on the two cars at those prices although I don't think air conditioning is very viable on the electric car due to the amount of electrical power it would pull from the batteries. I'd have similar questions on how well a heater/defroster would work.

I really liked both of these cars and came very close to buying the Wheego Whip. The only thing that really held me back is the battery pack. I think there are some new battery designs that will be available and affordable in a couple of years that will make this car a lot more useful. Pat and I are finding that we use the Smart primarily as a town car. Pat still isn't comfortable in it going on the freeway although I have and it is fine. The electric car, even the NEV model with it's speed limitations, would work pretty well as a town car, if it could go farther between battery charges. They are coming but I just don't think they are quite here yet, at least in a package that the average person can afford.

For a look at an interesting electric car, go look at the Tesla Roadster roll out in this 3 minute U-Tube video. This car will go more than 35mph (about 100mph over that) and has a cruising range of over 200 miles. It's acceleration is very fast and it's a fun car to drive. But, you'd better have a spare $120,000 or so if you want to buy one.

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So how long have you had this car? They are cute, but I think I'd be rather intimidated on the freeway with all the big guys passing by! After being on the rescue squad for 15 years I don't think I'd want to be in an accident with one. Extrication would be a bitch! But on the other hand, instead of the jaws of life, all you'd need is a can opener!! HAHAHAHA
sorry, it will be a great car to tow behind the motor home.
Hello There Mr Mocha !
awesome little car , I would love one but for my needs I need a large van/suv ,cant see putting my girls wheel chair in the back of that mini LOL it is almost the same size LOL
I hope all is well with you and Mrs Mocha , I guess your down to a few mochas by now if any ,but the name stays !hahah
as usual I love looking at all the pics and following you on your adventures , tis a pleasure .
Take care
careful and happy driving
I need one of those! My town is approximately thirty feet across and that car will cross it admirably!

But then, I have a bicycle, and that's coffee powered.
Gday Dick.. A neat little car.. But I think ill keep my large Ford Territory ill feel safer in it..but I agree a nice car to tow along behind the RV.
I would like to have an electric in spite the draw back. It's the future.
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