Wheego has sold its first car. But to keep building its electric vehicles, the Atlanta startup needs cash and new investors, says Mike McQuary, CEO of Wheego Electric Cars Inc.
"My constraint is primarily capital," he says. "We'll be living hand-to-mouth as we try to get the first cars built. The next 200 will creep out as we raise money."
The company has retained The Westbury Group, a venture capital firm in Westport, Conn., to raise about $15 million to buy production parts to fill dealer orders, McQuary says.
Wheego's efforts to raise capital had been stymied because the company's LiFe electric two-seater needed crashworthiness approval from the U.S. Department of Transportation, McQuary says. That approval came in March.
Wheego retailed its first car on April 22, Earth Day, when suburban Atlanta residents Asma and Kevin Henry bought a LiFe at Jim Ellis Automotive in Atlanta.
The lithium-iron battery-powered car retails for $33,995, including shipping. But a federal incentive program refunds $7,500. Georgia provides an additional $5,000 buyer incentive, meaning that the first LiFe sold for around $22,000.
In February, Wheego President Jeff Boyd told Automotive News that the first 500 LiFes were in production to launch sales on March 30 through a network of 35 dealers. He said he expected to have 70 dealers signed on to sell the brand by year end.
Boyd has left the company, he told Automotive News in an e-mail, in order to launch a new global venture focusing on green technology.
McQuary did not say how far behind Wheego is on completing its next vehicles. The venture imports car bodies from China, but relies mostly on North American suppliers for its vehicle content, including batteries and battery-management technology.
Wheego's assembly plant in Ontario, Calif., was scheduled to build 200 cars a month for the first three months of this year, Boyd had said, and then would begin ramping up to a full capacity of 60,000 cars a year.
"The question right now," McQuary says, "is how quickly we can raise money to buy parts."