Home » I Went To China And Found These Incredible Electric Cars You’ve Never Heard Of

I Went To China And Found These Incredible Electric Cars You’ve Never Heard Of

Nevs Of China Ts5
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In the West, there is a lot of blabber about the future of electric vehicles. Some say that the future will never arrive, others say it is coming soon. In Europe, things are speeding up a bit, but many carmakers are wrestling with legacy cars and factories. BMW, for example, still offers a diesel version of that fancy new 5-Series. In the U.S., the EV situation is Tesla, and then not much else. In China, however, the future has arrived.

And you can see it every day on every street. The endless roads of Beijing are packed with futuristic, wildly designed long-range New Energy Vehicles (NEVs), as the country calls the vehicles its government heavily subsidizes. And if you go to any dealer area, you will see dozens more new cars ready to launch on the market in the upcoming days or weeks. Let’s have a look at 18 modern Chinese NEVs that I saw in Beijing over the summer. 

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Li 1

A common misconception is that Chinese carmakers make “cheap” electric cars. There are surely lots of those, but that market is relatively small in size and even smaller in earnings. The real action is in the middle segment and the lower end of the top segment. This is where most new Chinese NEVs are launched, this is where the famous new companies operate, and this is where the big money is made.

These cars are not cheap. Sure, you get a lot of car for your money, but it’s still a lot of money. Most cars discussed in this article are priced at around $30K. Folks who can afford these vehicles are mainly from the booming Chinese middle class in the big cities, with a dual income and one or two kids. They usually live in high-rise apartment buildings with chargers in the underground parking garage or at the office. Outside the big cities, sales of this kind of EVs are still tiny. Folks there don’t have the cash and charging is way more difficult. So the boom happens in town. 

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Aion Y Plus (埃安 Y Plus)

Aion Y

Aion is one of China’s best-selling NEV brands. It is owned by Changan Auto, a large state-owned conglomerate. Aion makes a series of affordable and capable electric cars. The Aion Y is a great family car; I checked it out at an Aion dealer, and the packaging is brilliant, with loads of space and storage inside. On the street, I saw a lady with two babies and a stroller, plus a lot of stuff, and she dumped it all in the rear-seat compartment – she didn’t even need the trunk. That’s how big it is. There were a lot of these Aions on the road; it’s a popular machine.

If I still lived in China, and if I still had small kids, I would buy our little family an Aion Y. I would look so hip and young-family-ish. Honk honk. Stroller. Honk honk. The car in the photo is painted in Elegant Gray and the trim level is called “70 Enjoy Edition.” It is a front-wheel drive single-motor car, with an output of 150 kW (200hp) and 225 Nm (166 lb-ft). That’s all the power a sweet and happy Chinese family needs. The top speed is a modest 150 km/h (93 mph).

The Aion 70 Enjoy Edition has a 61.7 kWh LFP battery for a 510-kilometer (317 miles) range. It costs 125.800 yuan, or $17.6K. That is such a good deal that Aion sells every Y they can make. Even so, Aion also sells a base model called Aion Y Younger, with a smaller battery and colored bumper bits and such. I feel too old for that one.

Aito M5 EV (问界M5)

Aito M5 Ev

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Aito is a brand under Huawei (yes, the 5G Huawei). They make a line of high-tech electric cars with a relatively unassuming design. Production of Aito cars is outsourced to Seres, another Chinese carmaker. This kind of contract-production construction is common in China. Huawei makes electric motors, the ADAS system, the infotainment system, and the sound system — software and hardware. Huawei is also one of China’s largest smartphone, smartwatch, and laptop makers. In China, you can walk into a shopping mall, go to a Huawei shop, and check out an Aito car and a smartphone at the same time and place. They have the car standing next to phones and computers, and the operating system is all the same, so everything connects seamlessly.

Chinese consumers dig this kind of ecosystem setup. The Aito M5 is a compact crossover, available with EREV and EV power trains. The car in the photo is the M5 EV Standard Version. It is a single-motor rear-wheel drive car. The output of the Huawei DriveOne electric motor is 272 hp and 360 Nm (265 lb-ft). The top speed is 200 km/h (124 mph) and 0-100 takes 7.1 seconds. Electricity is stored in an 80-kWh CATL lithium iron phosphate (LFP) battery and the range is 620 kilometers (385 miles). The price is 259.800 RMB, which translates to $35.8K. 

ArcFox Alpha T (极狐 阿尔法T)

Arcfox Alpha T

ArcFox is a brand under the Beijing Auto Industry Corporation (BAIC). Their first car was the ArcFox Lite, a trendy city car, but it was too expensive for its size and it flopped and got canceled. ArcFox cars are manufactured by BAIC Bluepark Magna, a car-manufacturing joint venture between BAIC (51%) and Canadian automotive firm Magna International (49%).

The Alpha T looks interesting but a bit dull compared to many other new Chinese cars. The logo depicts an Arctic fox’s (Vulpes lagopus) head. ArcFox uses the Latin script ‘α’ for Alpha on the car, which is cool. The Glacier Blue car in the photo is a Forest Edition 480. This version has a single motor and front-wheel drive. Output is 238 hp and 360 Nm (265 lb-ft). The top speed is limited to 180 km/h (112 mph) and 0-100 takes 8 seconds. Electricity is stored in a 61.8 kWh battery for a range of 480 kilometers (298 miles), hence the ‘480’ in the name. Many Chinese car EV makers have the car’s range in the rim-level name. Others use the torque number or the battery’s size. 

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A note on color names: I translate color names as best as I can. The official translation, if there is any, may be different. Chinese consumers care about car color names. I quote myself now, from my previous article: “Car color names are always poetic in China. When a new car comes onto the market, car makers often release separate press releases about the names of the exterior and interior colors.”

Avatr 11 (阿维塔 11)

Avatr 11

Avatr is a brand jointly owned by Changan and battery maker CATL. As one may expect, the battery comes from CATL. But I’d guess the electric motors, the infotainment, the ADAS, and the sound system are sourced from Huawei, the same folks that own Atio.

The Avatr 11 is a mad SUV crossover — a massive machine with a wild design. It has three lidar sensors, one in the bumper and one on each front fender. These days, Huawei and Xpeng are commonly believed to make the best ADAS systems in China. Also, see my earlier article on important ADAS matters. I talked to a guy who worked for Avatr. I met him at an Avatr experience store in a shopping mall. He told me he used to work for Tesla China, working on a localized version of FSD. But, he said, development was slow so he quit, and went to work for Avatr to work on the integration of the Huawei ADAS in the 11.

According to this fellow, Huawei’s ADAS was far superior compared to Tesla’s FSD. The Avatr 11 is available with RWD and AWD. The white car in the photo is the Avatr 11 116-degree single-motor RWD version. Output is 313 hp and 370 Nm (273 lb-ft), good for a 200 m/h (124 mph) top speed and a 0-100 of 6.9 seconds. Below the floor lies a big 116 kWh battery, hence the name, for a CLTC range of 730 kilometers (453 miles). This great machine costs 335.000 yuan or $46.2K. The brand just launched a new sedan, logically called the Avatr 12.

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BYD Seagull (比亚迪 海鸥)

Byd Seagull

Build Your Dreams (BYD) is China’s largest NEV brand. The company makes EVs, PHEVs, and EREVs under various brand names and lines. The Seagull is BYD’s cheapest EV. It is part of the Ocean series, hence the seabird name. Other cars in the same series have names like Dolphin, Seal, and Frigate 07. The Seagull is a sharp-looking little thing with cool black wheels. Launched in China in 2023, BYD exports the Seagull to various markets in Southeast Asia where the EV market is slowly starting to grow as well.

The car that I saw is painted Sprout Green. A sprout? It looks like yellow to me too, but Sprout Green it is. The BYD Seagull is a front-wheel drive car. The motor poops out 75 horses and 135 Nm (99 lb-ft). Top speed is 130 km/h (80.7 mph). BYD does not list a 0-100 but they do list the 0-50. That is quite common for these small EVs. They are allowed on the highway but most buyers use them within the city only. The 0-50 time is 4.9 seconds. The BYD Blade LFP battery holds 30.08 kWh of electricity for a range of 305 kilometers (190 miles). The Seagull is 4.8 meters long and seats four fellows. And it’s  cheap: only 73.800 RMB or $10.2K. It is a hugely popular car; I saw dozens of Seagulls each day. 

Auto, Automobile, Motor or Motors?

The English names of Chinese car companies are usually a combination of Name + Auto/Automobile/Motor/Motors. What is the difference? There isn’t any. In Chinese, the terms for auto and motor are the same, and there isn’t a singular/plural messiness in Chinese. The term is 汽车 (qìchē). For example: Li Auto (理想汽车), Changan Automobile (长安汽车), BYD Motor (比亚迪汽车),  Xpeng Motors (小鹏汽车). Companies just choose the one they like the best.

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Deepal S7 (深蓝 S7)

Deepal S7

Deepal is a brand under state-owned Changan Automobile. The Deepal brand is positioned high-mid-market. It was launched in 2022, making it the youngest brand in this post. The S7 is the brand’s second car, launched earlier this year. The Deepal S7 is a sharply cut SUV coupe.

The one shown was brand new, still without license plates but with a temporary plate behind the windshield (on the right side of the vehicle). When you buy a new car in China, you always get such a plate until you finish all the paperwork for your official plates. The Deepal S7 is available with EREV and EV powertrains. Deepal is also working on an FCEV version, which will launch later. The car in the photo is the EV version, with the S7 250 Pro trim level. It is painted in a color called Nebula Green. Well, it looks like nebula green to me, so Deepal did a fine job there.

It has cool aero wheels and aero blades in the bumpers. It has a single-motor RWD powertrain with 258 hp and 320 Nm (236 lb-ft).  The top speed is 180 km/h (112 mph) and 0-100 takes 6.7 seconds. It has a 66.8 kWh CALB ternary lithium battery and its range is, you guessed it, 520 kilometers (323 miles). The Deepal S7 250 Pro can be yours for 179.900 yuan or $24.9K.

 Denza D9 EV (腾势 D9 EV)

Denza Ev Mpv

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Denza is a brand under BYD. Denza started life  as a 50-50 joint venture with Daimler. The brand’s first car was called Denza. That was a bit unclear, the Denza Denza, and later on they renamed it Denza 500. After that, nothing happened with Denza anymore. In 2021 BYD took control, and it now owns 90% of the Denza brand. Since then, things have gone much quicker. They are no longer held back by those gruffy slow-moving slow-talking Germans.

In only two years, Denza has launched three new cars, with many more on the way. In the late 2010s, I spoke to a German engineer who worked at Denza. He was not too happy with the folks from BYD. He complained that “The Chinese always want everything tomorrow.” Yeah duh, man. The Germans always want everything in five years. See where that got you? The crap-soaked Mercedes EQS, that’s where. And don’t get me started about Volkswagen in China! Don’t! Okay. I will write about Volkswagen in another story.

Back to the business at hand. The giant Denza D9 MPV is currently Denza’s best-selling vehicle. It is available as a PHEV and as an EV, like the car in the photo. It is not pretty, but it surely is impressive. what a grille! Fake, of course, but that doesn’t matter. Some car makers that sell PHEV and EV versions of the same car have ‘EV’ in the EV version’s name. Get me? Like Denza D9 EV, wherein EV is part of the name. Denza does that, but, for example, Deepal doesn’t. The car in the photo is a Denza D9 EV 600 AWD Premium. The color is called Night Black, which looks like dark blue to me. The chrome bits don’t have a color name. Power: all-wheel drive dual motor, 374 hp and 470 Nm (346 lb-ft).  It does 0-100 in 6.9 seconds, which is fast for a car of this size. The 103.36 kWh (Chinese car makers are very precise with battery capacity numbers) Blade battery is good for a 600-kilometer (373 miles) range. It costs 435.800 yuan ($60.4K).

Enovate ME7 (天际 ME7)

Enovare Me7

Enovate was a brand owned by a company called Enovate Motors. Enovate was founded in 2015. In 2022 they went under after slower-than-expected sales. So slow indeed, that I had never even seen one before. My first Enovate, I was very happy and took like two dozen pics of the car. De 3-line logo depicts an ‘E’. The Enovate ME7 is a fine-looking compact electric crossover launched in 2019. At the time, they had quite impressive tech, like a screen for the front passenger. That’s normal now, but in 2019 it was very special. Enovate was also ahead with the bar that runs between the headlights.

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That’s a trend now (see Leap C11 and Li L9), but in 2019 Enovate was the first. Too bad the company didn’t make it. I am sure they would be churning out flying cars now.  Enovate took it easy with the trim level names. They had the ME7 410km and the ME7 530km. The ME7 that I met is a ‘410km’, painted in Fantasy Blue. That’s a fantasy-tastic color name.

It is a front-wheel drive single-motor car, with an output of 218 hp and 330 Nm (243 lb-ft). The top speed is a modest 165 km/h (102 mp/h) and 0-100 took 7.7 seconds. A 54 kWh ternary lithium battery made for a 410-kilometer (254 miles) range. In 2022, it sold for 238.800 yuan or  $33.1K. The death of the company came very suddenly and was very radical. Just now I was going through some online forums, and owners are complaining that they are without software updates, that dealers closed down, and that nobody picks up the phone. Well, the Chinese car market is a Wild East. Both companies and consumers have to be tough to survive. 

Geely Geome Panda mini (吉利几何 熊猫mini)

Geely Geome Panda

Geome is short for Geometry. Geometry was a brand under Geely Auto, which is a division of the Geely Group. But last year, Geometry was downgraded to a mere series under the Geely brand. Follow? Before: Geely Group > Geely Auto > Geometry. Now: Geely Group > Geely Auto > Geely > Geely Geometry. Mostly, Chinese car makers go the other way: they upgrade series to brands. That’s their thing, you know? But not this time. Geely, the Group, is the undisputed champion of name-changing, re-positioning, re-shuffling, and whatnot-more-ing. They are worse than Dongfeng! Chinese car media gets confused about it too. Sometimes they mess up brands and series. Geely isn’t big on updating its websites, which doesn’t help. It is all great fun.

And it gets a little weirder still: All the Geometry cars are branded Geometry, except the Panda, which is branded Geome. The Chinese name is the same. It is unsure why. Chinese media speculates that Geely may be planning to use Geome for an upcoming mobility brand. That wouldn’t surprise me, at all. Geometry is aimed at young car buyers, so the marketing is hip and somewhat fuzzy. The Geome Panda mini (mini without capital = hip) is an electric minicar with a cute design and big round headlights. Geely used to sell another car called Panda in the 2010s, that one looked like a panda bear.

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The Panda mini that I saw is painted in a color called Billowing White. The trim level is, hold on now, Super Cute Bear. So the full name is Geely Geome Panda mini Super Cute Bear. They also have the Cute Bear, the Long Range Bear, the Smart Bear, and a special edition called the Asian Games Bear, for the Asian Games. And recently, Geome launched the Panda Qishi off-road edition. The Super Cute Bear has 27 hp and 85 Nm (62 lb-ft). It does 0-50 in 5.41 and the top speed is 100 km/h (62 mph). The range is 120 kilometers (74 miles) with a 9.61 kWh LFP battery. Money: 32.900 yuan or $4563. 

JAC Yiwei 3 (江淮 钇为 3)

Jac Ev Yi

JAC is a large automotive conglomerate, making everything from mini cars to heavy trucks. Back in the glory ICE days, they made a cool Mercedes-clone. Somewhat sadly, today they are best known as the contract manufacturer for NIO (see below). But that is unfair as JAC has been making EVs much longer than NIO. JAC had its first electric cars on the road in the 2010s. They were a bit too early and their EV-operations kind of fizzled out. But they are back again now with a brand-new EV series called Yiwei. The first car of the series is the Yiwei 3, a cool hatchback with big round headlights. It was launched earlier this year. The color name of the car in the photo is ‘Fresh Rice’, and I am feeling hungry now. This is the base car, with the ‘405km Lite’ trim level. It has front-wheel drive and the motor puts out 95 hp and 135 Nm (99 lb-ft). The top speed is 150 km/h (93 mph). Electricity is stored in a 41 kWh LFP battery for a range, you never guessed, of 405 kilometers (251 miles). The JAC Yiwei 3 405km Lite costs 89.900 yuan and that is $12.4K.

NEV?

NEV stands for New Energy Vehicle. This is a Chinese category that includes: EVs, PHEVs, and FCEVs. The PHEV part includes EREVs. HEVs are excluded. This distinction is important because only NEVs get the subsidies and other perks. There are various purchase subsidies in China, some from the central government and many more from local governments.

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Leap C11 (零跑 C11)

Leap C11

Leap is a brand under Leap Motor. The Leap C11 is a mid-size SUV available in EREV and EV forms. The Leap brand is aimed at families, and their cars are marketed as comfortable and spacious, instead of sporty. An in-car karaoke system is standard on Leap Motor’s larger vehicles. The Leap C11 is a pretty car with a streamlined body with a drag coefficient of 0.282 cD, it also has aero wheels and pop-out door handles. Unlike most Chinese EV makers, Leap Motor develops and builds its own electric motors.

The Walden Green/Metallic Black car in the photo is the EV version, with the base ‘500 Comfort Edition’ trim level.  It is a single-motor rear-wheel drive machine. The output is 272 hp and 360 Nm (265 lb-ft), good for a modest 170 km/h (105 mph) top speed and a 0-100 in 7.9 seconds. Under the floor sits a 69.2 LFP battery and the range is, check the trim-level name, 500 kilometers (310 miles). The Leap C11 500 Comfort Edition sells for 155,800 yuan or $21.6K, and that is a good deal for the car you get.

Li L9 (理想 L9)

Li L9

 The Li brand is owned by Li Auto. The founder of Li Auto is Li Xiang. Yes, he named the company after himself, just like that fellow Ford did. The company makes three SUVs right now: the Li L7, the Li L8, and the Li L9. The L9 is the biggest one, with seven seats and a length of 5.2 meters, and that makes it the longest SUV in this article. Bigger is better! Recently, Li launched its first MPV, the bonkers Li MEGA, a full-electric seven-seater with a 3.3-meter wheelbase.

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Li Auto has a unique export strategy: They don’t export. And that’s very rare these days, as most Chinese car makers have gone abroad already. But Li wants to grow in China first. The three Li SUVs are all EREVs, and they all use the same powertrain: a 1.5 turbo plus two electric motors. The combined output is 449 hp and 620 Nm (457 lb-ft). It has a 65-liter fuel tank and a 44.5 kWh ternary lithium battery. The combined range is a massive 1315 kilometers (817 miles) and the EV-only range is 215 (133 miles). The car that I saw is painted in Green Special Edition Pearl, and the trim level is the top-spec L9 Max, which sells for 459.800 yuan ($63.8K). That’s a lot of cash but the L9 is loaded with luxuries, like a huge fold-down screen for the second row, and equipped with an advanced ADAS system including a lidar above the windscreen.

Neta S (哪吒 S)

Neta S

Neta is a Chinese NEV brand owned by Hozon Auto. The company started with cheap compact hatchbacks and crossovers, but in 2022 they launched the Neta S, a stylish electric sedan-coupe with an aerodynamic body, a striking split-headlight design, and spacey alloy wheels. The S was a game changer for Neta, suddenly everybody knew about the brand. It is a low-slung car with a sporty stance. Neta sells EREV and EV versions. The car in the photo is an EV, the Neta S  650 AWD to be precise.

The color is Raptor Brown, and that is a super cool name but it looks more like pink to me. I had to check it twice, but it really is Raptor Brown. All right Neta, if you say so. The 650 AWD has two motors for a combined output of 462 hp and 620 Nm (457 lb-f), the exact same torque number as the Li L9. The top speed is 185 km/h (115 mph) and it does 0-100 in a speedy 3.9 seconds. Electricity is stored in a big 91 kWh ternary lithium battery for a range of 650 kilometers (404 miles). For so much power it is not expensive: 259.800 yuan or $36.3K. I like Neta. I think Neta is cool. Neta also makes a brilliant electric sports car called the GT. It wasn’t launched yet when I was in China but I went to a Neta dealer to check it out. They had an electric kiddie car that really looked like the S. More on all that, hopefully, in another story.

NIO ES6 (蔚来 ES6)

Nio Es6

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NIO is probably the best-known ‘new’ Chinese EV-maker. Their unique selling point is battery-swap technology. In China, NIO has a network of 2135 battery swap stations, and those have swapped over 32 million batteries. The car in the photo is the new ES6, NIO’s best-selling car in China. The old ES6 looked slightly less comprehensive. It is an interesting design, with split headlights, pop-out door handles, black wheel arches, and small aero wheels. The machinery above the windshield is NIO’s ‘Watchtower’, with lidar and two high-resolution cameras. The color is Aurora Green.

The NIO ES6 is a dual-motor AWD car. The combined output is 490 hp and 700 Nm (516 lb-ft), good for 200 km/h and 0-100 in 4.9 seconds. Folks can get a 75 kWh battery for a range of 490 kilometers (304 miles) or a 100 kWh battery for 625 (388 miles). In China, you can swap the batteries. For day-to-day, you can use the lighter 75 kWh unit. Do you need to go on a longer trip, well, then you can swap it for a 100 kWh unit. NIO will soon launch even larger batteries, which, in a way, kind of undermines the point of swapping.

The 100 kWh NIO ES6 costs 396.000 yuan ($55.8K). NIO is the only Chinese brand that has extremely fanatic Western fanboys on Twitter, they defend everything the brand does and discussions can be nasty. Some of it may be real admiration, but most of the fuzz is caused by NIO’s listing on the NYSE, where the stock price has been going down for a while.

ORA Good Cat (欧拉好猫)

Ora Good Cat

ORA is a somewhat fuzzy car brand under Great Wall Motors (GWM). ORA cars are named after cats. This one is the Good Cat, but they also sell the Good Cat GT, the Lightning Cat, and the Ballet Cat, and they are working on a new one called the Punk Cat. In the past, they also sold the White Cat, the Black Cat, and the iQ. The latter was the only one not named after a cat. It wasn’t very popular because it was a little ugly. I have to be more precise here. ORA also sold a car called the R1, but it was renamed to White Cat after a year and a half.  The ORA Good Cat that I met has Tianjin license plates. Tianjin is a giant port city some 100 miles southeast of Beijing.

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The color name is the weirdest of most: Ten Thousand Meters. The color names for the Good Cat were chosen after an internet vote. ORA came up with nameless colors, and netizens could make up names and vote. The other colors are just as odd: Muppet White, Blue Wave, Forgive Green, Big Orange Gold, High Heel Red, Wisdom Brown, and Siam Black. (Well, Blue Wave is kind of normal I guess).

In the late 2010s and very early 2020s many Chinese automakers organized this sort of internet vote for color names and even for car names. But they don’t do it anymore today. Too bad. The trim level name is boring in comparison: ‘401km Standard Range’. Yawn. It is a single-motor front-wheel drive car. Output is 143 hp and 210 Nm (155 lb-ft). The top speed is 150 km/h (93 mph) and 0-50 takes 3.8 seconds. The LFP battery stores 49.82 kWh of electricity for a 401-kilometer range (249 miles). The ORA Good Cat 401km Standard Range has a good price: 149.800 yuan ($20.9K).

Weltmeister EX5 400 (威马 EX5 400)

Weltmeister E5 400

This is another dead one. The Weltmeister brand is no longer with us. Weltmeister was launched in 2018, founded by a fellow named Freeman Shen, who previously worked for Geely. There was lots of hilarity about the ‘English’ name of the brand. Weltmeister is a German word, that means World Champion. The Chinese name was odd too: 威马, Weima. This means Weimar, as in the German Republic. They started well, with two factories and five model lines.

Sadly, a lack of investments, COVID-19, and supply-chain problems forced the company into bankruptcy in 2023. They are still trying to restart the business but it seems unlikely they will succeed. The EX5 was Weltmeister’s first car, a compact crossover SUV with a nice but somewhat messy design. It is a front-wheel drive vehicle with a single electric motor with 160 kW and 225 Nm (166 lb-ft). That’s not a lot now, but in 2018 it was decent power. The car in the photo is the Weltmeister EX5 400, with a 52.7 kWh ternary lithium battery for a 403-kilometer CLTC range. They should have called it the EX5 403! That’s why they went under, potential buyers underestimated the range. The color name is cool: Extreme White. 

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Xpeng G6 (小鹏G6)

Xpeng G6

The Chinese name of Xpeng is Xiaopeng. The brand is owned by Xpeng Motors (Xiaopeng Qiche). The founder is He Xiaopeng. Yes, he named the car company after himself. But, uniquely, after his first name instead of after his last name. Like that fellow Ford would have named his car company Henry. The Henry Crown Victoria. The Henry F-150. Xpeng made the best ADAS systems in China until Huawei came along. Now they make the second-best ADAS, which is still quite good.

The Xpeng G6 is an SUV coupe launched in 2023, it is aimed at the Tesla Model Y. It has a pretty black lightbar atop the bumper, which houses the daytime running lights. The one that I saw is painted in a color called Molten Cloud Orange, the trim level is top-spec ‘700 AWD High-Performance Max’. It is a dual-motor all-wheel drive car, with a combined output of 487 hp and 660 Nm (487 lb-ft). The Xpeng G6 700 AWD High-Performance Max does 0-100 in 3.9 seconds and tops out at 202 km/h (125 mph). All this power costs only 276.900 yuan ($39K), and that is such a good deal that the G6 has become Xpeng’s best-selling car after just a few months of sales. 

Zeekr 001 (极氪 001)

Zeekr 001

Zeekr is a brand under the Geely Group. It is positioned somewhere amid Lynk & Co, Polestar, and Volvo. Where exactly? Nobody knows and nobody cares. The Zeekr 001 is a sedan coupe. Zeekr calls it a station wagon sometimes. The official government classification is ‘sedan’. Who is right? I guess I am. The 001 has Zeekr’s distinctive headlight design, with the daytime running lights located almost on the hood. Cool, but not very well-liked, and probably expensive to produce. So Zeekr’s new models, like the Zeekr 007, have their lights back where they belong.

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The car in the photo is the 001 WE 100 kWh, painted in Extreme White, and that is the same name as the color of the Weltmeister EX5 400. Zeekr must have thought: Weltmeister dead, we take their colors. The Zeekr WE 001 100 kWh is a powerful dual-motor AWD machine. Output is 544 hp and 686 Nm (506 lb-ft). With that, it tops out at 200 km/h and sprints from 0-100 in 3.8 seconds. The CATL 100 kWh battery stores enough electricity for a 656-kilometer (407 miles) range. The 001 is not cheap, the WE 001 100 kWh costs 328.000 yuan or $45.8K. Zeekr also sells a version with a novel 140 kWh battery with a range of 1032 kilometers.

Concluding

These great cars are just the tip of the iceberg. I could easily write two more with cars from other brands, and ten more with cars from the same brands. And as I write these words the busy Chinese carmakers are launching yet more brands and series and cars. It is like the entire car sector is on high-kW charging rates. Not all brands will survive, of course, but many more are ready to give it a shot. The future is here, in China, and will be here for a while.

Next article: Visit to an Aion dealer in China.

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Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
6 months ago

“The Chinese always want everything tomorrow.” Yeah duh, man. The Germans always want everything in five years. See where that got you?”

Germans already tried that “get it done overnight thing”. They even gave it a fancy name – “Blitzkreig”.

Graham Ou
Graham Ou
6 months ago

There’s a small error, Aion is owned by GAC, not by Chang’an.

It seems like there aren’t to many BYD models in Beijing. In any parking lot of Shenzhen, you can see tons of BYD Qin/Han/Tang/Song side by side.

TOSSABL
TOSSABL
6 months ago

That ORA Good Cat is interesting. It looks like a New Beetle and a Model3 talked a random passing Porsche into a threesome at Burning Man.
Quite looking forward to the Punk Cat.

At Tycho’s first EV article I was thinking that the Big Three might be in trouble. Now, I have no doubt at all: there is stuff here I would buy even with a 30% tariff. I guess I really better start solidifying my views on buying a Chinese vehicle. Like, now.

Hangover Grenade
Hangover Grenade
6 months ago

They look like AI versions of cars. There is something a little off, a little uncanny about them.

Ward William
Ward William
6 months ago

90% of these are uglier than my Australian Cattle dog’s south end fertilizer disposal outlet pucker. I see only 1 or 2 that even remotely tweak my interest from an aesthetic POV. I see many companies there in bed with state-owned Changan Automobile, which for me, along with many other things, translates to Winnie the Poo always knows where you are. So that’s a big yea…nah for me mate.

Dan1101
Dan1101
6 months ago

These mostly aren’t too bad looking. I’d like to see more inexpensive ones.

If the Chines build these cars as well as Chines company DJI builds drones, they will be good vehicles.

CSRoad
CSRoad
6 months ago

Beware the foreign cars are ready to happen again.
Detroit should get ready again.
They won’t again.

Rotarycoach
Rotarycoach
6 months ago

Awesome article. While a lot of these do borrow styling from each other I don’t think it is fair to say they all look the same.

Panda Mini: If the US had something like this for 5k, it would likely sell like hot cakes. Or at least I would buy one!

Robot Turds
Robot Turds
6 months ago

They all look like the same car. Just anonymous blobs.

BunkyTheMelon
BunkyTheMelon
6 months ago

Are Chinese car “designers” capable of a single original design? Why is everything just a blatant ripoff of something else?

Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
6 months ago

These are awesome. The European makers must be shaking in their boots. And American makers are going to be so f’ked once these come here in volume (I.e. are built in north america).

El Barto
El Barto
6 months ago

Of course, the absolute majority of these NEVs are powered by…
…Coal.
Save the environment by driving your virtue-signaling EV, whilst the CCP builds more and more coal-powered power stations to charge them.

Marlin May
Marlin May
6 months ago
Reply to  El Barto

No tailpipe emissions. So, even if the source of the electricity is dirty. it is still cleaner than driving a petroleum powered vehicle where you have carbon emissions produced when mining, power production and power consumption. To put it into USA terms, operating an EV in West Virginia, which burns coal for over 80% of its electricity, is cleaner than operating a gas or diesel powered car in California.

Balls in your court. Please respond.

El Barto
El Barto
6 months ago
Reply to  Marlin May

Here in NZ where we generate a good portion of our electricity cleanly, owning an EV is def cleaner overall than a gas or diesel car. Don’t get me wrong – I like EVs and hybrids, just because they’re much cleaner on the road, and I’ll like them even more when we move away from lithium-ion batteries to something more safer and lighter.

Obviously, once an EV is on the road, then carbon emissions are next to nothing compared to gas & diesel.

However, my argument was the massive amounts of carbon emissions from Chinese coal-powered generating stations, which they will continue building until 2050. Those are much dirtier than coal stations in our respective countries and I should have added that most Western countries that generate electricity from coal usually have good-to-really-strict environmental regulations, which China doesn’t enforce to the same standard – if at all. I should have added this in my OP for context.

Marlin May
Marlin May
6 months ago
Reply to  El Barto

Excellent, well reasoned, insightful and informative response!

CivoLee
CivoLee
6 months ago

Whenever I see Chinese EVs like the Neta S and Zeekr 001 or even the HiPhi Z and then look at our EV market which is pretty much just pandering to treehuggers with an econobox mindset (Bolt/Leaf), rich people trying to look like they give two craps about the environment (Tesla/Lucid) and those whose masculinity is threatened by EVs (F-150 Lightning/Hummer EV), I can’t help but be jealous (despite China being, well, China).

Echo Stellar
Echo Stellar
6 months ago

The Chinese market is such a fever dream of choice, real value, and a true focus on the now. Who knows when your manufacturer will *poof* disappear, it’s exciting! It seems ripe for consolidation, and I really wish their government was not so deplorable so I could feel good about advocating for a Leap C11 to be imported to my garage. Heck, I might settle for the Xpeng G6. Also, it is so refreshing to see novel design out of these automakers.

TOSSABL
TOSSABL
6 months ago
Reply to  Echo Stellar

I was impressed at the difference in design between Tycho’s first EV article and this one. The market there is evolving incredibly quickly. I’d daily that Seagull, and the Panda( tho not near young or fuzzy enough to do so ), and I even kind of like the Aion…

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