American company RTEV will bring electric Noble to the USoA.
Homepage of Wheego:RTEV (Ruff & Tuff Electric Vehicles) and Shuanghuan Automobile Company announced that they have formed a partnership to produce and market affordable all-electric cars for sale around the world. The first automobile will be a two-seat compact car that will be launched in the United States in May 2009. It will be marketed exclusively by RTEV under the Wheego Whip name in North America and by Shuanghuan Automobile as the Electric Noble (E-Noble) in the rest of the world.
While the car is capable of speeds of 95 kHz (60 mph) it will be sold to different countries specifically designed to meet the safety requirements of the particular country. For example in the U.S. it will be launched as a Low Speed Vehicle (LSV- 25 mph max) or Medium Speed Vehicle (MSV- 35 mph max) depending on local state regulations, until it passes U.S. Department of Transportation safety crash requirements, which is expected sometime in early 2010.
The E-Noble will be manufactured by Shuanghuan at their factory in Shijiahuang. While the Wheego Whip will be based on the Noble platform, it will undergo final assembly, including the motor, drive train, controller, electronic components and be programmed in the U.S. The cars will feature environmentally friendly dry cell sealed (AGM) batteries, which require no maintenance and feature an on-board high tech charger. The car will travel 80 kilometers (50 miles) on a single charge—and plug in for a recharge on any standard household 110 or 220 volt electrical outlet.
“What has really impressed us with Shuanghuan is their attention to detail in providing a high-quality fit and finish and smooth ride to the car,” explained Mike McQuary, RTEV CEO. “Once we locked down the systems and components for a high quality electric drive system, we undertook a global search for a car manufacturer that would meet our expectations of a driving experience that was seamless when compared to its gasoline counterparts. While several car companies that we talked to had solid mechanical systems, it was Shuanghuan that emerged with a commitment to meet the quality standards that American drivers have come to expect in an automobile. Their production of the gas powered Noble gave them a great head start, in that it was more a matter of adaptation of a vehicle, rather than trying to develop something from scratch. They share our vision and see the important potential for the emergence of an electric car as an everyday part of consumer transportation.”
“When we were first approached by RTEV, it was their passion that first got our attention. There have been several companies that have approached us and bought one or two cars and tried to convert them to electric. But it was RTEV that quickly emerged as the technology leader for electric vehicles. Combine this with their successful track record as a management team in other ventures and we knew we had made the right choice for a partner,” said Shuanghuan General Manager Cheng Bing.”
“There is a perfect storm of macro-events that are causing people around the world to take inventory of their personal habits and their effect on the environment across a wide spectrum which includes transportation, and RTEV is entering the marketplace at this pivotal time,” said McQuary, former president of internet service providers MindSpring and EarthLink. “The long-held assumption has been that electric vehicles are quirky and impractical for everyday use, and are of interest to only a small group of eco-friendly consumers. We believe that our vehicles appeal to a huge market segment and will fill a middle market demand gap at the right time, with the right vehicles, and a with national dealer network to provide service and support.”
Shuanghuan Automobile Company has been making cars since 1988. Its current car models include the SCEO SUV and the Noble. The company is focused on zero defect manufacturing processes and passed the ISO9000 quality control system certification in 2000, and gained 3C constraint products certification in 2003.
At 25 mph, here comes the Wheego Whip
The concept of an electric vehicle that can’t exceed 25 mph isn’t likely to get anyone’s heart racing, especially with that speed demon the Tesla Roadster around. But they may be on to something with the Wheego Whip.
The car is an LSV, which is short for Low-Speed Vehicle. Through federal regulations, they’re permitted on roads with speed limits of 35 mph or less, but can’t exceed 25 mph. Also, known as Neighborhood Electric Vehicles, some, like Chrysler’s GEM, are more like glorified golf carts. But the Wheego Whip is a real enclosed car, similar in shape and concept to the Smart. For $18,995, you get a two-seater with air-conditioning, power windows, locks, four-wheel disc brakes and an MP3- and iPod-ready stereo. A federal income tax credit covers 10 percent of the purchase price.
Cars like this work for gated communities, college campuses, sprawling tech centers and resorts. According to the Christian Science Monitor, there are 40,000 already on American roads.
There’s an interesting history here. As President Jeff Boyd explains it, the company was founded (as Ruff and Tuff Products) several years ago in South Carolina, primarily making golf carts. In 2007, company head Bo Huff approached a merchant bank looking for expansion capital. One of the bank’s partners just happened to be Mike McQuary, former president of Internet provider Mindspring Enterprises (now merged with EarthLink).
McQuary liked the technology so much that he invested in it and became CEO. “I have a driveway full of electric cars,” says McQuary. “The Whip is the best electric car in the world!”
Ruff and Tuff will sell you anything from a golf cart to a camouflage-painted, four-wheel-drive hunting vehicle. The really exciting news, says Boyd, is that the Wheego part of the company will be fielding a highway-capable small car, based on the Whip, early next year. The unnamed new car with lithium-ion batteries, will have a 100-mile range. The price will be in the $24,000 range.
The Wheego Whip costs three cents a mile to operate, and the highway car shouldn’t cost much more. “Our research shows that 80 percent of commutes are under 40 miles,” Boyd says. “So if we achieve a 100-mile range with the highway car, that’s like three days of commuting, a nice place to be. Of course, the holy grail is 200 miles, which closely approximates what you can get with internal combustion.”
These electrics have an international supply chain. The chassis is made in China, and the cars are shipped to California for installation of the U.S.-made components. The first Whips will be on the road in May.