Meet the EV startup challenging the big boys

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Indy Lifestyle Online

With the Coda Sedan delayed until late 2011 and Nissan's Leaf reportedly facing supply issues, one US electric-vehicle maker at this week's LA Auto Show has had something of a rapid push into the limelight.

Wheego, an Atlanta-based EV start-up, says that its LiFe electric vehicle will be on the roads this December, potentially beating the Leaf to the mass market.

The two-passenger vehicle is considerably smaller than the Leaf, the Chevrolet Volt or even the Mitsubishi i, making it a likely competitor to the planned Smart Fortwo electric, but if everything goes to plan, Wheego could have a considerable advantage in being the second EV to market after the Volt.

Priced at $33,000/€24,030 ($26,500/€19,300 after federal tax credits), the LiFe weighs only 2,667 lbs (1,210 kgs) and offers a maximum speed of 65 mph (104 km/h), with a "real world driving range" of approximately 100 miles (160 km), the same as the Leaf and the i.

More than 20 dealerships have been signed up to sell the vehicles across the US, including key early adopter states such as California, Florida and New York.

Reception of the Wheego LiFe after its LA Auto Show debut was generally positive, with USA Today saying "the Wheego offers a lot of fun in a small package."

However, prospective EV buyers looking for a safe bet following the turmoil of Coda's Sedan probably can't bet the house on Wheego just yet - the company still hasn't gained all the documentation required for a US launch, although executives insist that everything will be in place by December.

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