Chinese firm Aiways to show Europe-spec U5 EV at Geneva

Chinese manufacturer Aiways will show a production-ready European market version of its U5 SUV at the Geneva motor show in March. 

The launch comes ahead of the model’s planned arrival in European dealerships in April. Show visitors will be able to drive the Kia E-Niro rival on European soil for the first time at the event’s new indoor electric vehicle test track. 

The U5 is a Volkswagen Tiguan-sized SUV with front wheels that are powered by an electric motor fed by a 65kWh battery pack. Its range is 313 miles on the NEDC cycle, with WLTP testing yet to be completed. Aiways has previously suggested that it could launch in the UK in right-hand-drive form in 2021, after the start-up company revealed strong interest.

Alexander Klose, Aiways’ overseas director, said the company plans to build just 2000 units this year to ensure the quality is sufficient for European customers. It then plans to ramp up to 50,000 units from 2020.

In Europe, the U5 will be available for lease only, and exclusively online. Klose says a monthly lease cost of less than €400 (£346) is being targeted, making the U5 the equivalent of a €35,000 (£30,244) vehicle, but, crucially, that it offers all the benefits and equipment of a premium model with an electric drivetrain for the cost of a typical family SUV.

“If you look at the size and the price, it’s a spot in the market that’s empty,” Klose told Autocar at the Shanghai motor show. “When you see the final version and the feature list, you will understand that this vehicle is not entry-level. Yet when you compare to the electric models from Audi and Mercedes, we’re half-price.”

In time, Aiways hopes to offer a smaller battery pack to bring the cost down further, because it says most people simply don’t need the kind of ranges being offered for everyday use. Customers will be able to swap to a smaller battery pack and have their monthly lease cost reduced.

At the Shanghai show, Aiways also revealed a new concept car, the U7, that previews a larger SUV.

The U5 and U7 use the same architecture, which can house different motors and sizes of battery pack and accomodate four-wheel drive.

Also part of the Aiways group is the reborn Gumpert brand, which revealed an fuel cell electric supercar called the Nathalie last year. Klose told Autocar there will be technology transfer between Aiways and Gumpert but that the two companies have autonomy from one another.