Aiways, the Shanghai-based Electric Vehicle automaker, will make its debut in the European market this August. The company has announced that its new U5 all-electric SUV will be sold exclusively via a direct-to-customer model and not through traditional car dealerships.
With a claimed range of close to 300 miles in perfect conditions, the U5 is likely to come with a 65kWh battery that can hit an 80% charge in around 45 minutes with a rapid charger. Performance-wise, it will top out at close to 100mph and, Aiways claim, the U5 will hit 60 from a standing start in just 9 seconds.
In terms of look, feel and budget, we feel it will come up against MG's electric ZS.
The company's proposed ‘lite' sales strategy will facilitate the process of buying a car, according to Alexander Klose, Executive VP Overseas Operation at Aiways.
“Our sales model will improve access to the all-electric U5 and make it easy to buy a car online”, he said. “We are considering different types of ownership models, ranging from subscription to outright purchase – but starting with leasing”.
The car was due to be presented to Aiways' business partners at the 2020 Geneva International Motor Show, but following the decision to cancel GIMS, Aiways will hold a digital press conference on March 3rd, where it will formally announce its European Market strategy.
The company is currently working on a website for European buyers that will allow customers to research individual models, book test drives and sign up to specific usage time periods.
According to company officials, Aiways is also partnering up with the German retail giant Euronics, to help develop the growing market for electric vehicles.
In order to facilitate the transition to the new market, the two companies are working to establish showrooms throughout Europe. Buyers can then see the all-electric Aiways U5 in person, test drive it and talk to experts about the specifications, maintenance and cost of ownership.
Aiways is also developing a network of trained in-country specialists to give technical support and service to owners, to ensure that owning and maintaining a U5 is as ‘simple as possible', according to the company.
They are also working on a partnership with A.T.U. (a leading chain of independent German workshops), in order to bolster the range of services available to customers.
Since the cars are due for scheduled maintenance only once every 100,000 kilometres, the automaker believes that working with local partners will be a very effective way of servicing customer vehicles.
The full details of this partnership will be revealed in the upcoming months.
Knowing that quality will become a key battleground, Aiways sent an early prototype of the U5 on a 15,022km journey from China to Frankfurt. The U5 picked up an entry in the Guinness Book of Records for the longest drive by an electric vehicle. Smart move if your key claims will centre on range and reliability.
After decades of limited competition, you have to wonder how the major European brands will react to a high-specification Chinese product, with a long warranty and local support, being sold around the £26,000 mark.