As Wheego Electric Car has been experiencing, starting up a car manufacturing business is a very tough thing to do. Wheego is wending its way through acceptable compliance with Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards Regulations (FMVSSR) for its two-seat, all-electric Wheego Whip LiFe car. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration had granted Wheego a temporary exemption to the rules to allow for sales of the car as minor problems are being addressed and safety standards met. Earlier this week, it was discovered Wheego has been granted a second exemption period to comply with FMVSSR, after the first waiver ran out on August 1. This new waiver allows the Whip LiFe to remain on the market until December 31, 2012.

The problem with the $32,995 electric car is that its Electronic Stability Control (ESC) system is not fitted to the car, although it is now meeting anti-lock braking system requirements. Wheego has to improve the airbags, too. Its simple airbags are considered compliant until February 11, 2013, when NHTSA would like to see advanced airbags put in place. Wheego is being allowed by NHTSA to build up to 1,000 Wheego Whip LiFe cars in its present condition.

Tesla Motors went through a similar process when rolling out the original Roadster electric sports car in limited-run production. Tesla was given temporary exemption under the same scheme, allowing it to sell the car without advanced two-stage airbags through December 31, 2011.

In the movie, "Revenge of the Electric Car," Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk was compared to Preston Tucker, who built a very cool car in the 1940s – the Tucker – and attempted to beat his major competitors in Detroit by making it as a startup automaker. Tucker went out of business after manufacturing only a small volume of the innovative Tucker models because he didn't have the cash flow to keep his company going.

Management at auto manufacturing companies will tell you that there are a few benchmarks that have to be passed for a new car to make it into someone's garage: funding is an obvious one, along with engineering and design. Then there's the regulations: passing crash tests and getting NHTSA to sign-off an extensive list of federal safety standards. Wheego Electric Car is climbing some very high walls right now and, at this point, getting NHTSA to sign off is the one that matters the most.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 17 Comments
      Spec
      • 2 Years Ago
      How did we ever live in the 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s, and 80s without Electronic Stability Control?
        Ryan
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Spec
        Hundreds of thousands of people didn't live, and that causes lots of problems to families and companies when people die.
        SVX pearlie
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Spec
        Or advanced airbags?
      Ryan
      • 2 Years Ago
      So are these the regulations that Republicans keep talking about wanting to get rid of? How about the long list of cosmetic regulations when it comes to installing solar panels or wind turbines? Yes, safety is important, and the government should be providing engineering help in meeting these requirements for small car makers.
        throwback
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Ryan
        "the government should be providing engineering help in meeting these requirements for small car makers." Seriously, you want the government providing 'engineering help"? What makes you think the government knows how to engineer a car? If a car company can't meet the safety standards that's their problem. The Feds have given small companies waivers to further meet the standards. That's enough.
          Mart
          • 2 Years Ago
          @throwback
          How about getting the government to pay for the cars it wants to crash test?
          Ryan
          • 2 Years Ago
          @throwback
          I'm sure there are patents and licensing issues that could be streamlined. I'm not sure how open the NHTSA is with other car companies crash test data and safety systems, but there are things that work and designs that don't.
          2 Wheeled Menace
          • 2 Years Ago
          @throwback
          "What makes you think the government knows how to engineer a car?" I heard those Yugos were pretty badass.. ;D
        Peter
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Ryan
        Low volume exemptions are not unreasonable. We already have motorcycles that will do very poorly in a crash with most other vehicles in the road. If the individual is willing to take on that small but significant risk for a marginal volume vehicle, I would not urge the government to nanny us.
          Peter
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Peter
          We nanny ourselves by being so risk adverse. The govenrment and corporations merely reflect those mores of the larger society. If you really want freedom (of that type) you can move to China where there is a different level of interest in regulating and enforcing measures for safety and the environment (the coal mining sector in China is a good example of both) even and particularly by the population.
          throwback
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Peter
          "I would not urge the government to nanny us." Too late for that I'm afraid.
      Peter
      • 2 Years Ago
      $32,995 for a conversion of a Chinese Smart for two knockoff? LOL In spring 2013, the smart fortwo electric drive will go on general sale in Canada, MSRP from $26,990 (coupé) and $29,990 (cabriolet). No it will not need safety exemptions from Transport Canada.
      Smith Jim
      • 2 Years Ago
      I think Wheego's biggest hurdle is trying to sell a two-passenger car from a start-up company for the price of a Nissan Leaf. I don't want to see Wheego fail but I can't see how they could possibly survive.
      Warren
      • 2 Years Ago
      Yes. Wheego has no chance. I am waiting very impatiently for the new Smart Fortwo. It literally ways a ton, but is as close to a quadricycle as we are likely to get in the US. If the range and price come close to the hype, I am in. For a car supposed to be available in the US this fall, they have been amazingly quiet.
      Warren
      • 2 Years Ago
      The US needs a quadricycle classification, like the EU has. The Model T, and the 2CV , the most popular vehicles ever produced, fit the heavy quadricycle definition.
        2 Wheeled Menace
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Warren
        Yeah i agree! We have the NEV definition here, however, a NEV is really useless, topping out at 25-35mph. We could really use a class of non-highway vehicle that can go up to 45-50mph. Such a vehicle could be very light and shaped practically however you want, because it would never have to tolerate a >60mph crash.
          Warren
          • 2 Years Ago
          @2 Wheeled Menace
          How about a "55" class? 550 kg max weigh, 55 mph max speed (electronically limited), 55 mile minimum range.
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