Remember the Hyundai Excel or the Yugo? Both were very inexpensive, bare bones transportation modules, and they sold quite well. Not everyone needs a gargantuan vehicle that can haul a basketball team with all their equipment to the lake house while towing a ski boat. Some just want to get to work and back as cheaply as possible. They don’t need an electronic nanny to drive them around. Gracious, some people are even willing to roll their own windows up and down!
The electric vehicles available today are wondrous things in many ways, but they all have one thing in common. They sell for more than many people can afford, even with the federal, state, and local incentives available. So far, no company has offered the buying public the choice of a basic, low cost electric car that can compete with the Hyundai Accents and Honda Fits of the world.
Until now. According to Tech Crunch, Chinese manufacturer Kandi Technologies says it will begin accepting orders on August 18 for its diminutive K27 4-door electric sedan and its slightly larger K23 electric SUV. Buyers can reserve one for a fully refundable deposit of $100. Deliveries will take place in the 4th quarter of this year, initially in the Dallas/Fort Worth metropolitan area.
“Electric vehicles have been valued for years for their efficiency, sustainability and innovation. However, owning the ‘it’ car often eluded consumers who desired a great EV alongside all the other comforts of modern living. Kandi changes that and revolutionizes the EV buying experience for many,” said Johnny Tai, CEO of Kandi America, in a statement. “At Kandi, we are on a mission to make electric cars accessible for all. 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.”
Technical details are hard to come by at the moment, but the numbers that most people want to know about are price and range. The K27 sedan is priced at $20,499. After the federal tax credit, the net price comes to $12,999. It is not clear whether that includes a destination charge or not. It is also unclear how many buyers of such an inexpensive car will have a tax liability large enough to take full advantage of the federal credit. The K27 has a 17.69 kWh battery and a stated range of 100 miles, although whether that is an EPA rating is not known.
The larger Kandi K23 compact SUV features a 41.4 kWh battery and 180 miles of range. It sells for $29,999. Make that $24,499 after the federal tax credit. That car is a little more stylish than the K27. Squint and it bears a passing resemblance to the Honda Fit.
Is America ready for basic, low cost, no frills electric cars? We don’t know yet what features these cars offer, but it’s doubtful a 15″ touchscreen and full self-driving capability are included in the price. Your first thought may be, “Who would buy one of these when for a few dollars more you could have a real car?” To which we say, the K27 at least has 4 doors, something the Smart Car did not.
Here’s another perspective. In 1973, Honda introduced the first Civic to America. It was small, cheap, and offered such accessories as an AM radio. From that modest start, Honda built itself into a major US manufacturer. The Kandi 27 looks a little like that first Civic. From such humble roots, could Kandi build a small empire in the US? “We’ll see,” said the Zen master.