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CHJ Automotive to Release $7,800 EV in 2018

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【Summary】The vehicle measures roughly 8.2 feet long and 3.2 feet wide. Moreover, the vehicle will operate on two batteries that are swappable. This is the most game-changing feature of the car. Inside, the car may be equipped with Android Auto.

Michael Cheng    Jun 28, 2017 6:31 AM PT
CHJ Automotive to Release $7,800 EV in 2018

Strategies for the electrification of private vehicles vary greatly. Some are focusing on mass transportation sectors, by developing electric buses and trucks. For private consumers, automakers are turning popular fuel-engine models into hybrids and electric vehicles.

CHJ Automotive, a China-based EV startup, is one of the few businesses that truly stands out from the sea of automakers in the EV sector. Instead of offering high-end, limited edition electric cars, the company is focusing on releasing an ultra-compact EV, with a target price of $7,824.

Electrifying Scooters?

During an interview with CNBC, CHJ Automotive co-founder Kevin Shen provided key insights about the startup's business plan. Shen explained that in China there are over 340 million people who use electric scooters. Those individuals want to upgrade to a safer, more powerful and more comfortable mode of transportation that isn't a standard car. Something affordable, easy to manage and versatile is needed to fill this growing gap.

This is how Shen and his team conceptualized the startup's ultra-compact EV, which is expected to launch in March 2018.

"But we cannot imagine all of them driving cars, so we want to give them something else, which is an ultra-compact car," said Shen, during the interview.

The vehicle measures roughly 8.2 feet long and 3.2 feet wide. It's literally the same size of a compact Smart Car. Compared to scooters, the units will provide cover from the blistering hot sun during the summer, the crippling snow during the winter and storms during rainy weather.

Moreover, the vehicle will operate on two batteries that are swappable. This is the most game-changing feature of the car. Inside, the car may be equipped with Android Auto.

A Battery-driven Business

Based on the information Shen provided, it's clear that the startup intends to profit from its battery swapping feature. Like buying traditional gas at a station, owners of the ultra-compact EV will be able to trade in their power cells for a fully charged pair. This means that CHJ Automotive could continuously profit from every car they sell. All they have to do is price the battery swapping services lower than conventional fuel for gas-powered vehicles.

Shen explained that the company is exploring the possibility of launching its EVs in other parts of world – specifically Europe. But for the EU market, the startup will limit ownership by offering its vehicles via a car-sharing platform with French firm Clem.

Outside of China and Europe, the ultra-compact EVs could be a huge hit in congested cities worldwide. Using a large SUV in such places, including Seoul, Mumbai and Jakarta, is incredibly difficult, as some roads are too tight for large cars to navigate through comfortably.

"But that size disadvantage may make it ideal for places like Mumbai, Tokyo, and any one of China's 110 cities with a population of more than 1 million. That's where a tiny, low-performance, cheap electric car may be just the ticket for navigating a thicket of urban congestion and parking woes," cited Steven Hanley from Clean Technica.

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