Many consumers cross off electric vehicles (EVs) from their auto shopping list because of cost — they simply cost more and most brands haven’t yet scaled up and cut battery costs to the point where they can reach that affordability point.
That gap appears to be closing as a Chinese import called Kandi has made affordability the central message in its pending entrance to the US market, Green Car Reports reported.
Assuming customer eligibility for the federal EV tax credit, the company is touting a starting price as low as US$12,999.
“At Kandi, we are on a mission to make electric cars accessible for all,” said Johnny Tai, CEO of Kandi America. “With these first two models, we are starting an Auto EVolution that will allow anyone, regardless of their financial status, to afford a reliable, high-tech EV.”
Kandi, known as Zhejiang Kangdi Vehicles in China, has a joint venture with Volvo owner Geely in its home market and has run an electric car-sharing service in China— one that dispensed cars much like a giant vending machine, the report said.
The company announced in 2019 that it was filing paperwork with the US federal government to bring two vehicles to market plans to start delivering its cars in the US starting in the fourth quarter of 2020 — and in a recent press release it detailed the plan involves two hatchbacks that are both very small by American standards.
The Kandi K27 has space for four and a top speed of 63 mph, with “a driving range of up to 100 miles” from a 17.7-kwh battery pack. Its US$20,490 “haggle-free” price tag puts it in a space that isn’t close to any other new electric vehicle, the report said.
Provided buyers are eligible for the US$7,500 federal EV tax credit the company is counting on, that would make the K27 the most affordable passenger car on the US market — nearly US$2,000 less than the current frugal champ, the base 2021 Chevy Spark at US$14,790.
A second model, the Kandi K23, will start at US$29,999. Its look is more modern and it’s described to be “the size of a small SUV” by the company, the report said.
With its 41.4-kwh battery pack, it can go “more than 180 miles” on a charge, and this model can hit 70 mph. Consider it a step smaller in length and width than the Chevrolet Bolt or Hyundai Kona Electric.
At US$29,999, the Kandi K23 would have a little more competition on arrival. It would be just $751 less than the 2021 Mini Cooper SE — although the Cooper SE has an EPA-rated range of just 110 miles, the report said.
The 2020 Nissan Leaf S starts at US$32,525 and has a range of 149 miles. Another alternative — if you’re in California — is the 2020 Hyundai Ioniq Electric, which costs US$34,020 and comes with a 170-mile rating.
In 2018 Kandi bought a Texas-based ATV importer, SC Autosports, to handle US distribution, the report said.
Neither SC nor Kandi have yet detailed how the cars will be sold, serviced, and supported — let alone delivered — but look for plenty of details after August 18, when it will be hosting a virtual reveal and opening up pre-orders.