Shanghai-based electric vehicle brand Aiways is set to make a splash in Europe with its flagship model, the U5.
Next year, the relatively new electric car company will open shop in Germany, France, Switzerland, Norway, and the Netherlands — a first for Chinese electric cars on the continent.
In March, Aiways’ five-seater U5 was unveiled as a “smart SUV” option, with an onboard facial recognition system that allegedly recognises passengers’ emotional and physical states (yes, we’re at this point now). Its competitors include electric SUVs from Audi and Mercedes-Benz.
Given that Aiways only just received its manufacturing licensing approval (an ongoing issue for electric vehicle makers in China), we’re keen to see how well the U5 performs domestically before it tackles the vastly different European market.
Transport and mobility technology have become central discussion points in how we handle inclusion and envision a more accessible future. Electric cars have become increasingly popular for reasons including fuel efficiency, environmentalism, and economics; even beleaguered smartphone giant Huawei is beefing up their business group handling auto parts and cloud-based auto services.
Unfortunately, Chinese automobiles generally haven’t had a great track record outside of China, even though its domestic market can be a pretty fascinating place for motor enthusiasts. Bearing all the hallmarks of sly Chinese ingenuity, there are plenty of “knockoff” luxury cars in the People’s Republic, including 2009's infamous Geely GE, a thinly-veiled reproduction of the Rolls-Royce Phantom.
Nonetheless, China isn’t new to the European auto world — Hangzhou-based Geely owns the iconic Swedish company, Volvo, as well as England’s Lotus Cars. Geely is also planning an entrance into the European market with its Chinese-Swedish car subscription service, Lynk & Co. Lynk & Co offers a “revolutionary” new model of car usage and ownership, along the lines of bike-renting and AirBnB-style sharing; car subscription services have already been rolling out in the US since 2017.
#Aiways receives ¥1B from Jiangxi gov to expand its 50 K factory in the province to 150 K.— Moneyball (@DKurac) May 29, 2019
The factory will be reconstructed and run by #JMC, which sold 50% share to Aiways last week.
Earlier, Aiways said it will start producing its U5 Ion SUV end of 2019. pic.twitter.com/wtVwdvMhkv
One reason that China’s vehicles struggle with success overseas might be the brand power and decades-long tradition of established car companies. There’s also the T-word — Tesla — which dominates much of the electric car discourse, despite ongoing issues with its units, uh, catching on fire.
But as Quartz reports, electric vehicles are still going strong in China — a trend that could finally give the Chinese car industry the nudge it needs to fully compete with the West.