Wheego, CT&T, Coda EVs Charge into Car Market

While the Nissan Leaf and Chevrolet Volt have been getting all the attention lately, there are other affordable plug-in electric cars that are flying under the radar.

The Coda, CT&T, THINK and Wheego are Electric Vehicles also coming to market now.
Most of us drive less than 75 miles a day, so an EV is a cost-effective second car, especially with federal tax credits up to $7,500, plus there are additional state and local incentives.

Those can be as much as an additional $5,000, such as through California’s Clean Vehicle Rebate Program, for example. Another bonus is that EVs qualify for HOV lane (high occupancy vehicle) access nearly everywhere.

I have driven every vehicle mentioned here — except the THINK — and been impressed by their performance, safety and technology.   Coda is a full-size five-passenger sedan, comparable in size, price and handling to the Chevrolet Volt, with similar “creature features”, including touch screen navigation and satellite-ready radio.

The Coda has a range of 90-120 miles, top speed of 80 mph, and recharges in six hours or less on 220v. Coda also is offering a traditional 3-year/36,000-mile vehicle warranty and a generous 8-year/100,000-mile battery warranty. Unlike other EV companies that publish the price before rebates and tax credits, Coda publishes only the $37,400 cost after tax savings.

CT&T is the largest vehicle manufacturer in China and South Korea, founded by former executives of Hyundai and Kia. The initials stand for “Creative Transport and Technology.” The car is designed for the U.S. market and the company is headquartered in Atlanta.
The CT&T E-Zone is a two-seater subcompact with car-like independent suspension, hydraulic brakes, airbags, and an MP3 outlet in the console. The 70-mile range on a single charge is more than enough for local errands and to get most of us to work and back. Currently, the E-Zone is rated as an LSV, or “low speed vehicle,” which means it is limited to streets and roads rated up to 35 mph. That’s the downside. The upside: it costs under $20,000, before federal or state tax credits, which can cut the price in half.

THINK calls itself the world’s leading dedicated electric vehicle maker, since it does not produce hybrids or plug-in hybrids, only electrics. Based in Norway, THINK models have driven more than 35 million zero-emission miles in Europe and Asia since 1999. THINK has opened a factory in Elkhart, Indiana, to produce vehicles for North America, powered by lithium ion batteries — also manufactured in Indiana.

The THINK City has a 100-mile range on a single charge and a top speed of 70 mph. It is a four-seater subcompact, approximately the same size as the Smart. It is on sale now to corporate fleets, and goes on sale to consumers later this year. THINK thinks the price will be around $34,000 before incentives.

Wheego was founded by an Internet millionaire who decided to mate his software expertise to unibody construction. The Wheego recently passed federal crash-testing requirements, which means you can drive it on the interstate. It is powered by lithium iron phosphate batteries, which are lighter weight and less expensive than the lithium ion cells.
Like the THINK City, the Wheego LiFe (Li for lithium and Fe for iron) has a 100-mile range and a top speed of 70mph. Although the chassis is made in China, 75 percent of the parts are made in the U.S., and the vehicle is assembled in Ontario, Calif.
Founder Mike McQuarry told me recently his goal is to sell a “couple of thousand” Wheegos, and promises delivery no longer than eight weeks from order and deposit. He also plans to build factories in the Midwest and East to save distribution costs. The FSV costs $32,995 before tax credits. Electric cars aren’t for everybody, but are a viable option for many of us. — Evelyn Kanter, Motor Matters

Manufacturer photo: The THINK City has a 100-mile range on a single charge and a top speed of 70 mph. The THINK City price will be around $34,000 before incentives.
The CT&T E-Zone is a two-seater subcompact with car-like independent suspension, hydraulic brakes, airbags, and an MP3 outlet in the console, costing under $20,000, before federal or state tax credits, which can cut the price in half.

Copyright, AutoWriters Associates Inc., 2011

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