Low-Speed Electric Vehicles Becoming Increasingly Popular in China

4 years ago by Eric Loveday 13

Low Speed EVs Being Produced in China at Amazing Rates

Low Speed EVs Being Produced in China at Amazing Rates

In the US, low-speed electric vehicles were once mildly popular, but with the rise of real electric automobiles, the low-speeder has lost its luster.

Typical Low Speed EV

Typical Low Speed EV

The same isn’t true in China.

Though China may not yet embrace the real electric automobile, the low-speed variety is really catching on.

In Shandong Province alone, some 128,000 low-speed electric were produced in 2012.  Even more amazingly, 125,000 of those have been sold.

20 “automakers” produce these low-speed electric in Shandong, which is now considered to be the “low speed electric vehicle test zone,” according to China Car Times.

Why the intense focus on low-speed electrics?  Cost and price.  These automakers can produce the low-speed EVs for next to nothing, especially since they’re outside of regulations and don’t require safety equipment.  The consumer can then buy these low-speeders on the cheap (like for 1/10th the price of a real EV).

The other reason for the rising popularity of low-speed electric is that you can drive them without a license and that they don’t require insurance.

Low-speed electrics aren’t likely to have a second coming in the US, but in other parts of the world, the low-speeder will surely dominate for years to come.

Source: China Car Times

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13 responses to "Low-Speed Electric Vehicles Becoming Increasingly Popular in China"

  1. David Murray says:

    NEVs never sold well in the USA because they are limited to 25 mph. There is almost nowhere you can drive one of those that it won’t be causing a traffic jam behind you. And who wants to pay $10,000 for a vehicle that causes a traffic jam everywhere you go?

    if they could get the law changed to allow 45 mph then they might actually become useful vehicles. I could probably get around most of the metro area by staying on streets that are 45 mph or less. In fact, I often do that in my “real” EVs just to save energy vs. getting on the highway.

    1. Mark H says:

      There is a small market in the US for those who lost their licence, possibly to DUI, and are forced to drive to work. Their current choice is a moped. They are not allowed on the highway and are restricted (I think) to 35 mph zones. There are still places where public transportation does not exist and this is the only current alternative. This a small number in that ALL the parameters have to exit. No public transportation, no co-workers or family members to provide transportation, 35mph zones to destination, and loss of license. Still in any given month I see one.

      1. John F says:

        A 40 mph limited electric could be the perfect solution for the elderly who should not be driving an unlimited vehicle. Small, visible, and easy to maneuver transportation would get the limited ability driver to the doctor, pharmacy, or grocery store during the day. It could give them enough independence and make the roads safer. If Nissan could include that autonomous driving feature to help navigate the side streets, that would be even better.

        1. Ocean Railroader says:

          The State of Virginia pasted a law a few months ago that mandates that these small cars and mopeds have to have insurance and have to have plates on them other wise you will be finned. Personally I think these types of cars are useless in that in my area you have to go out on to a main road with a 55 mile speed limit before you can go on a side street.

          As for China the traffic is most likely so bad that the speed limit says 50 but everyone only travels at 25 or less so it really doesn’t matter if you are in a car that goes 25 miles on hour or less. The same thing applies to North Virginia in that the speed limit says 70 or 60 buy you only travel at 20 miles on hour on the expressway.

    2. Warren says:

      “I often do that in my “real” EVs just to save energy vs. getting on the highway.”

      There are two ways to address the energy use problems with “real” cars. One is to average 40-45 mph. The other is to take aerodynamics seriously.

      That is how my two friends are able to commute in their Leaf EV’s. At “real” car speeds they wouldn’t get home. In fact that is how I have driven my “real” ICE car for years, to avoid accidents, and save gas.

      Until “real” cars discover real aerodynamics they should stick to NEV speeds.

      1. David Murray says:

        Seriously aerodynamic cars would look very ugly and most likely be very long. Most consumers wouldn’t buy them. Especially being that their gas cars are perfectly capable of jumping on the highway for an hour or two without sacrificing any range. In fact, gas cars get better fuel economy on the highway than in the city because they are so ridiculously inefficient in start/stop situations. That is the way people are used to things being and are unlikely to give up using the highway to switch to an EV.

        1. Warren says:

          “Seriously aerodynamic cars would look very ugly and most likely be very long.”

          I saw a bald eagle soaring, while out riding my bicycle, yesterday. It was very aerodynamic. Didn’t look anything like an SUV.

          But i am certain you are right. Consumers wouldn’t buy them. Citizens of a nation might.

  2. Mark H says:

    125,000 sold is not insignificant. When we see global reports and future sales projections like this one for light duty vehicles http://insideevs.com/by-2020-electrified-vehicles-will-take-7-of-the-global-automotive-market/ do they include these?

  3. Rick says:

    NEVs are basically golf carts with lights and seat belts (and a few other safety features). You’ve probably seen them riding around without even registering the difference. Check out any retirement community, and you’ll see a ton of them.

  4. MDEV says:

    125.000 less Co2 producers I’m Ok with it, this small cars are good for small provinces in China, less noisy motorcycles, I don’t think they are in Shanghai

  5. EV says:

    Smart Electric is the greatest little electric car in the world why it doesnt sell more i do not know

    1. Ivica says:

      The Smart ev has a production limit of 6000 per year .
      Reservations surpassed that early in the year (april or may IIRC).
      I have no idea if Daimler has added additional capacity since then.
      And 24k€ minimum is not really cheap for a small car imo.

      1. Jay Cole says:

        This was a big problem for Daimler, they really underestimated the demand for the car (and why not with no EV really taking off in a big way) and it put them behind orders by 9-10 months thanks to restrained on battery cell production capacity.

        They say they have recently added more capacity and that they can now cover off current demand and start working down the backlog. Their in-house Evonik battery business I don’t think worked out as well as they thought (setting production is easy, scaling up quickly? not so much…so why do it yourself if your tech is not proprietary?)

        Daimler is now doing the out-sourcing thing, and have decided that next gen smart ED, which will show up later than the standard ICE conversion next year (Ed in 2015) will stick with the current tech/generational batteries found in today’s smart. Normally this might be a question mark, but the smart ForTwo is a city car at heart anyway, and today’s cells are only getting cheaper…probably the right call.

        If I was making a WAG, I’d say they were caught up in Q2 of 2014 and won’t ever have this probably again…so we will get a feel for worldwide (and US) demand on the ED then.