Chinese Electric Vehicles (EV) turning heads


    The Shandong Electric Vehicle Motor Show (Shandong EV Expo) is letting the sparks fly in China this week, and some of China’s 200 vehicle manufacturers (yes, nearly 200!) have come up with some surprising new models.

    chinese ev1

    This is the Kaimali K50, a new low-speed electric vehicle (LSEV). The vehicle features large truck-like mirrors with integrated indicators, speedy decals on the sides and sporty silver five-spoke alloys.

    Something else that caught our attention was the Sikixing M1.

    chinese ev2The M1 was an immediate favourite on the show thanks to its impossibly cute and cool looks. Like the Kaimali K50, the M1 comes with large truck-like mirrors and big black bumpers for a tiny bit of safety, but also chromed door handles, an antenna on the A-pillar, and shiny silver multi-spoke alloys.

    Both these very Chinese vehicles sport a good but cheap interior with fake wood on the doors, comfy carpets, cheap seats etc, to name but a few.

    But all dials are digital, and in the K50 the infotainment system in the middle console even boasts a rear-view camera.

    The K50 is the smallest car produced by the Shandong Kaimali New Energy Company. Power comes from a tiny 3Kw electric motor using lead-acid batteries, which is good for a 35 km/h top-speed. The whole car (batteries included) weighs in at only 300kg, which gives it a “reasonable” 110 kilometre range. A full charge takes six hours on 220V.

    The M1, another new low-speed EV, is manufactured by Jinan Sikixing Corporation. Like many other Chinese car manufacturers, the company has its origin in a completely different product – the bicycle business, in this case. After which they moved up to electric bicycles, and then to LSEVs.

    The M1 is a two-seater. The interior is black and basic but it does have a radio with CD player. The dials are digital. The M1 is powered by a tiny electric motor with an output of one (1) kW, mated to a lead-acid battery.

    The Sikixing M1 is almost perfectly round, everywhere. The body is polyester, limiting curb weight to 230kg, but offering a top speed of 27 km/h. It is a very small car, and pricing starts at around 15 000 Yuan ($2 425,00; R29 600!)

    At 27 km/h it would take two people 20 hours non-stop to travel the 550 km from Johannesburg to Durban and all… A 5-km trip to your local varsity in peak-hour traffic in Cape Town or Sandton will take you as long as any car, with the added advantage of getting more looks from strangers!