How can the world's cheapest EV be sold for only $1,200?
On June 8, 2020, we told our readers the Changli Nemeca was actually overbuilt. What we did not know was if that was just Jason Torchinsky’s and David Tracy’s idea or if any engineering specialist would agree with them. Well, Jalopnik’s senior editor took the cheapest EV on Earth to Sandy Munro, and he must have felt defeated – but not in a bad way.
Munro is known as the master of lean design, or else, of bringing down manufacturing costs. His own words for how he felt were “wow,” “mystified,” and “I’m impressed,” which is telling from someone that probably did not expect stainless steel bumpers in something that costs only $1,200 with batteries.
Take them out, and you end up with a $930 car that still has five alloy wheels (the spare tire also brings one), four lugs per wheel, heating, steering, radio, and a closed cabin that seats three people.
Munro makes a fast analysis of the costs, but he discovers the small car has decent painting, nice weldings, real glass on the doors, a rear door (which holds the tiny spare tire), and is very decent for its price tag.
One of the only problems he finds in the car relates to the dashboard gaps, but he laughs when he says that the door gaps are better than those you find in a Tesla. He also mentions that he had to look hard to find issues with a vehicle that costs only $1,200.
Torchinsky told Munro the Changli takes about four hours to charge fully. With a range of a little more than 23 miles, you could go to your office with it, put it to charge in a 110V outlet while you work, and get back home with no concerns. At least if it is road-legal, which we are not very sure.
The marine lead-acid batteries are probably easy to replace, and the car seems robust enough to endure for a long time. In China, the Changli Nemeca is considered an old man’s transportation because it does not require a driver's license, as the “sans permis” in Europe. The difference is that you’ll never find an EV for $1,200 in the Old Continent.