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CHJ to launch “ultra compact” EV

Newcomer CHJ Automotive will launch an urban ultra-compact in 2018, followed by an affordable electric SUV in 2019

Chinese start-up CHJ Automotive is to launch a 7,000-euro (US$7,800) ‘ultra-compact’ electric car in China in March 2018, CNBC reported.

It will also be launched in Europe for the car-sharing market, via a new partnership with France-based Clem.

The EV will be 2.5 metres in length and 1 metre wide and has two swappable batteries, co-founder Kevin Shen told the US television network. In particular, the compact model – dubbed “a new category of cars” by Shem – is aimed at the urban commuter market and is considered a potential alternative to electric scooters.

Google’s in-car operating system, Android Auto, will also be included.

The EV’s name has not yet been divulged publicly.

“In China, there are 340 million people (who) daily commute with e-scooters, but there is a strong demand for them to upgrade to something, but we cannot imagine all of them driving cars, so we want to give them something else, which is an ultra-compact car,” Shen told CNBC.

CHJ will also develop an extended-range, 7-seater affordable SUV. Presumably this will enable it to compete in China’s rapidly electrifying market, while going some way towards mitigating the range anxiety Shen says is still felt by consumers. This will reach the market in the first quarter of 2019, with prices expected to be in the region of around 40,000 euros (US$45,000).

The ultra-compact EV sounds promising, but may not be quite the radical thinking CHJ would like to believe, at least in Europe. Models like the Smart and the Renault Twizy already exist (or are on their way) and have seen limited uptake in the market, whether they are compact and urban-adapted or not.

China may well be a different story, and at the right price point an affordable SUV could still be a winner. In the meantime, we’ll have to hang on for more details from CHJ.


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