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Status Report, Vol. 45, No. 13 | December 22, 2010 Subscribe

Wheego Whip is no match for barrier in side crash test

The Wheego Whip may be eco-friendly, but it's not crashworthy.

The Whip is a low-speed vehicle, a class of tiny golf-cart-like vehicles showing up more often on public roads. Unlike passenger vehicles, they aren't required to have airbags or other safety features beyond safety belts since they are meant for low-risk driving. Practically every state allows them on certain roads, mostly with 35 mph or lower speed limits.

The Institute has been monitoring the trend and recently evaluated a 2010 electric Wheego Whip in a 31 mph side-impact crash test. The results show why low-speed vehicles shouldn't share the road with regular traffic.

The Whip is the second low-speed vehicle to be evaluated in the test, which is the most demanding one the Institute runs. This past spring the Institute conducted a side test of a GEM e2 electric vehicle (see "Low-speed vehicles aren't crashworthy, new tests show," May 20, 2010) with similar results.

For both the Wheego and GEM, dummies recorded data suggesting severe or fatal injuries to a real driver, including skull fractures and/or brain injuries because the barrier hit the dummies' heads. Wheego says it soon will bring to market the full-speed LiFe, an electric two-seater that will meet federal safety rules for regular passenger vehicles.

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