Tiny off-roaders and mini EVs are both huge hits right now, so the thinking goes that if you combine both, you’d end up with a smash hit, right? Well this is the Baojun Yep and it does just that. It comes from the makers of the Wuling Hongguang Mini EV, which means that this tiny, cute electric utility vehicle is a very distant relative of the Chevrolet Suburban. How weird is that?
First a word about styling. Retro styling is derivative by nature, so don’t be surprised if you pick out a few influences here. I see the tiniest bit of second-generation Nissan Cube in the A-pillar and door window and a hint of Daihatsu Taft in a handful of character lines, but the Yep doesn’t feel like a rip-off. It’s its own thing, something new in the tiny crossover segment.
So what’s the appeal here? Well, it’s not the speed. The Yep will come with a single motor out back making 67 horsepower. That’s a little bit more than kei cars make, which means that a zero-to-sixty mph time of eventually isn’t out of the question, but don’t expect to go much faster than 62 mph. Weirdly, I can see what looks like a live rear axle in the rear shot, so expect unsprung weight to be quite high. Of course, the benefit of this setup is that it keeps costs low, so it’s snakes and ladders and all that.
[Editor’s Note: My Changli has a solid axle setup, so this isn’t too shocking, really. – JT]
It’s not the range either. A lithium iron phosphate battery pack of an unknown capacity feeds the electric motor to give the Yep a 188-mile (303 km) CLTC cycle range. The CLTC cycle is even more optimistic than WLTP so although the Yep seems to be targeting a rugged urban set, its purported range most likely means you’d need to plug it in at least once mid-way to the greenery.
It’s the fun, if I’m being honest. It wasn’t that long ago that we could buy drop-top and/or three-door Chevrolet Trackers, Toyota RAV4s, Kia Sportages, and even Land Rover Freelanders. The tiny, somewhat rugged, city-sized do-anything vehicle was a thing, and it’s faded from many of our streets. Maybe it’s nostalgia or just the fact that high-clearance snowmageddon-ready vehicles are now all the size of towns, but it’s nice to see another marque keeping the flame alive.
In fact, the Baojun Yep goes really hard at keeping things tiny. It weighs just over one tonne despite being electric and is more than 18 inches shorter than a Mitsubishi Mirage. Remarkably, it has four seats despite its stubby length, although I have a feeling that the way back isn’t suitable for people with legs, but that doesn’t matter. In a world of decaying infrastructure, severe weather events, calls for higher urban density, and expensive EVs, the Baojun Yep might be the runabout people need. Expect to learn more about this little thing next month, when it makes its first public appearance at the Shanghai Auto Show.
(Photo credits: Baojun)
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