Most vehicles from China are "write-offs," meaning they're subpar and will never make it to the US, so why care?
Well, that's how Autocar approached the electric Roewe E50. The thinking from Autocar probably went something like this: This Roewe is one more vehicle from a Chinese manufacturer that will never be sold outside of China and it's likely no good anyways, so why even review it?
Well, to Autocar's surprise, the electric Roewe E50 was "really rather good."
The Roewe E50 first appeared in concept form in 2012. It entered the full production cycle in early 2013.
Typically, Chinese electric vehicles are subpar, but not the Roewe.
Here's some of what Autocar had to say in its review of the E50:
"The Roewe E50 is a city car-sized four seater whose clean lines and unfussy looks inside and out complement the electric drivetrain."
"It is powered by a 71bhp motor and 18 KWh battery pack. It has a claimed 120-mile range if you drive at a consistent 45 mph and a top speed of 81mph."
"A 30-minute charge from a standard socket delivers a theoretical 90-mile range, while a six-hour charge tops the battery out."
"The interior is unfussy but practical. Excellent packaging means there is a decent amount of room, even in the back. Two six-footers can comfortably sit one behind the other."
"On the move, the car delivers an involved and refined drive. Performance is good, the steering feel pleasantly engaging and the balance especially decent for a car with such a short wheelbase. Despite being small and weighing over a tonne, it feels nimble."
"The ride on the short but surprisingly bumpy test track we sampled it on was well controlled. Only the sharpness of the response from the brakes is sub-optimal but, all in, it delivers more than enough to be a pleasant city companion."
That's about as glowing a review for a no-frills electric that we've yet to see come from Autocar.
E50 Up Close and Personal
In the all-important "should I buy one" category, Autocar says this:
"It’s only on sale in China, but if you live there – and more specifically in Shanghai – the national and local government incentives to do so are compelling."
"The Chinese government sees electric car technology as an opportunity for its homegrown car makers to leapfrog some of the established competition, as well as reduce pollution. Therefore, it wants Chinese buyers to favour such products, and offers incentives of around £7000 to buyers."
"In Shanghai, this price reduction is complemented by a further £2500 incentive plus the waiving of an £8000 licence plate fee."
"As such, a Shanghai buyer can have a Roewe E50 for around the same money as a conventional supermini."
Unfortunately, Roewe has no intention of exporting the E50 electric and has set an annual production volume at only 1,000 units. But if this electric is as good as Autocar says, then why not pump up production and ship some here?