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Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Chinese EV with 400 km range to sell for $26,000

Chinese automotive manufacturer Zotye have invited The Sunday Times to test drive a mini SUV Electric Vehicle, based on the 2006 Daihatsu Terios, called the Zhong Tai. No technical details are included in the TIMES report but the vehicle is based on a model the company makes called a RX6400 that comes with a 74 Kw (100 hp) 1.6 Lt Mitsubishi sourced ICE and rear wheel drive only.

Where most battery powered electric vehicles being announced claim a range around the 100 mile mark, the EV subsidiary of Zotye, New Power, say the Zhong Tai has a range of 250 Miles (400 km). To date the only other battery only EV with that kind range is the $100,000 Tesla Roadster.

The reporter initially sounds skeptical of the electric vehicles claimed 250 Mile range although he doesn't bother to ask what the battery capacity is or any details about the power train at all. New Power say on the open road at 60 mph (96 km/h) the EV can cover 170 miles (272 km). Reduce the aerodynamic load by traveling to 48 mph (76.8 km/h) and the range increases by 28% to 218 miles (348 km) and in stop start city driving where the average speed is much lower and maximum regeneration is possible the range increases 47% to 250 miles (400km).

The TIMES writer started a 120 mile test drive starting with a three-quarters charge and some reasonably hard driving later, it was showing a 42% charge. Assuming an accurate meter the claimed 250 mile range seems feasible.

The only details provided are the vehicles gross weight of 1200 kg and the battery packs weight of 660lb. (300kg). The 53 kWh battery pack in the Tesla Roadster weighs 700 lbs ( 318 kg) with a similar curb weight of 1,235 kg so by way of weight comparison the Zhong Tai may have a 50 kWh battery pack making the 250 mile range claim credible.

While the mini SUV obviously has a much less powerful EV motor than the Tesla (0-60mph in the 12 sec region) the most astonishing difference is the price. New Power say they will produce 20,000 a year and are looking at distribution and sales in the UK and US with a retail price between £16,300 and £20,500 ($25,790 and $32,440). It's believed the battery pack alone in the Tesla costs $20,000 so selling this EV at that price would be a considerable achievement given current battery prices of approx $350 / kWh.

Some concern is expressed about the crash worthiness of some Chinese cars, but as the original Daihastu chassis passed and the Ev has the same curb weight it seems an unlikely problem.

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