China’s CHJ Automotive Plans $7,800 Ultra Compact Electric Car


While Elon Musk and Tesla start the electric car revolution from the high end of the market, Chinese company CHJ Automotive plans to start from the low end. Co-founder Kevin Shen says the company plans to introduce an ultra-compact electric car starting at around $7,800 in 2018. The company is working together with Clem, a French ride-hailing service, to test the cars in Paris.

CHJ ultra compact electric car

For those of you who have never had the pleasure of strolling the Champs Elysee on a soft summer night, traffic in Paris is insane. Nobody in their right mind would drive there if they didn’t have to. The same is true in many parts of the world, from Amsterdam to Beijing.

A headline on CNBC calls the company a “Tesla rival,” but that is not accurate. No self-respecting Tesla owner would be caught driving one of these electric microcars. But Teslas are not appropriate for use in many parts of the world, as Shen explains.

“In China, there are 340 million people (who) daily commute with e-scooters, but there is a strong demand for them to upgrade to something. But we cannot imagine all off them driving cars, so we want to give them something else, which is an ultra-compact car.”

Shen is not worried that so few electric cars are currently sold in China. New government regulations will push that number higher very soon. With more than 25 million new cars sold every year in China, “There is a very big market for everybody,” says Shen. It is no coincidence that Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn has said his company is working on an electric car for the Chinese market that will sell for less than $8,000.

The as-yet-unnamed car will be about 1 meter wide and 2.5 meters long. Shen says it will have a swappable battery and utilize Google’s Android Auto operation system. It plans to offer the car in Europe as well as China, but only as a ride-sharing vehicle on the Old Continent.

Is the ultra-compact car something we are likely to see in America? That seems unlikely. Being shorter and narrower than a Smart Car, the CHJ offering may be seen as “diminutive” rather than “ultra compact.” In a sea of pickup trucks and SUVs, it might seem too risky to drive on public streets.

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.

Source: CNBC

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  • Epicurus

    Smog is as thick as London fog in Beijing, and the Chinese wouldn’t actually prefer to buy EVs, all other things being equal? How can that be?

    For $7900, the Chinese government should buy hundreds of thousands of these cars and GIVE them to citizens in exchange for their ICE cars and scooters, starting with the worst polluting vehicles. C’mon Chinese Politburo, start thinking about the common good for a change.

    • Steve Hanley

      Hmmm….interesting idea.

      • Epicurus

        I have never figured out why communist governments rarely seem to operate for the public good.

      • Epicurus

        The health care savings alone might pay for it. Then there’s the fact that tens of thousands of people are dying prematurely and babies’ cognitive abilities are being damaged by the air pollution.

        It’s a no-brainer, isn’t it?

        • Steve Hanley

          Assuming one has an actual functioning brain.

          • Epicurus

            It’s amazing how little governments, ours included, care for the lives and health of their citizens. DuPont is dumping a carcinogenic toxin called “GenX” in the Cape Fear River in NC, the source of drinking water for 250,000 people, and neither the state or federal government is doing anything about it. Of course the MSM, the guard dogs of the status quo, aren’t reporting it.

          • Steve Hanley

            Personally, I am tired of all those government regulations interrupting the smooth flow of commerce. God intended for us to dump megatons of really toxic stuff in into our rivers, bays, oceans and skies.

            It’s in the Bible, I believe it, and THAT SETTLES IT!!!!

          • Epicurus

            I think the vast majority of ordinary people want clean air and clean water, but their so-called representatives don’t care what they want–just like in Red China. Just saw a Jimmy Dore video on YouTube where a woman in NC said she didn’t care about Russia allegedly hacking the election. She cared about clean water.

  • Antony Berretti

    Essentially an Electric Smart but guaranteed if ever to be sold in Europe, to be a moving coffin ready to be buried with occupant after collision with any European car…or truck…the thought….

    • Epicurus

      Better, if only slightly, than a scooter or motorcycle, and people ride those in Europe, right?

      • Antony Berretti

        Correct, but its psychological in that people think if they are surrounded by body work they are better protected and as such take risks or if unlucky and hit by another person, then you stand little chance of walking away….

  • partyzant

    “In a sea of pickup trucks and SUVs, it might seem too risky to drive on public streets” it won’t be more risky than riding motorcycle!