Which Is the Better Deal an Elio or a Wheego LiFe?

In the search for a fuel efficient vehicles I came across two interesting options. The first option is the Elio.  and the second is the Wheego LiFe.

Elio Vs Wheego LiFe

The Elio vehicle is a three wheel car (although legally it is classified as a motorcycle)  It is for two people; one seated in front of the other. This has all of the amenities of a car. At the moment they are in the pre-production stage so I can’t test drive one. According to the web page it should cost $6800 base price. The automatic transmission is optional. The gas usage is touted to be 84 MPG. The engine is to be a 3 cylinder.

The Wheego LiFe is a electric car two seater with a 100 mile range. I test drove one and the salesman said it had 110 MPGe so I reference it with a gas car. The battery pack should last about 7 years. The replacement cost is in the range of $6000-$7000 per battery pack.

The base list price is $33,995 at the Wheego web site. The dealership I went to in Georgia had a special of $24,999 base with federal government tax rebate of $7,500 and a Georgia state tax rebate of $5,000 the price was $12,500 base after all said and done. I could purchase an extended warranty to insure the car (mainly the batteries) at 3 year clips.

I decided to do a comparison of the numbers for my situation of driving about 400 miles a week. I wanted to see how the math adds up against where I am now to see if either of these are a viable option.

$3.50 per gallon gasoline
$0.11 per kilowatt hour
Wheego 10 hour recharge time
110 MPGe Wheego efficiency
84 MPG Elio efficiency
Wheego LiFe Vs Elio Fuel 
(from Wheego Web Site)


Wheego LiFe Vs Elio Fuel
The savings of 1 cent per mile only gets me $179.02 dollars per year. The difference of price is $5,700 on the purchase price between the two options. This means it would take me 31.8 years for the Wheego to break even with the Elio. In 7 years the battery pack would need to be replaced on the Wheego so the savings would be wiped out.

The assumptions of course are subject to change; for example if the price of gas would double then it would be 15 years for the Wheego to beat the price of the Elio. (providing the price of electricity doesn’t increase as well and not including the battery pack change out.)

Additionally if I compare to my 1994 Honda Accord (29 MPG) I have now the Elio should do better in the combined categories of cost and operating after 2 years. After that my gas savings saves me $1,643.68 per year.

Also I have no mileage per charge limit of 100 miles range before I can use the car again. If I had a little longer commute or had to go off the beaten trail for more miles I’d be in trouble with the Wheego. (or if the weather got extremely cold for a while)

There are risks with both choices. The Wheego is a company that seems to get their vehicle in a good price range by depending on government rebates. That doesn’t make me feel good for long term company growth. The dealer told me the Wheego company was coming out with a SUV next year with a 140 mile range so if that pans out the company may seem less risky. (to have a orphan car in the near future)

The Elio has the risk of a company that doesn’t have their vehicle on the market yet so your deposit would be at the risk the company never gets off the ground. The deposit is $1000 non refundable to get on line for the order. (with a $1500 credit towards the vehicle at the moment) The other think I noticed was that the automatic transmission was not standard – how much would this cost in both price and gas efficiency?

The situation might be different if I had a smaller commute but, I don’t so the Elio wins as a choice for me in my situation and the reward might outweigh the risk…  Besides if gasoline cost too much I can convert it to a gasifier.



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