Zotye Auto is one of those lesser-known Chinese automakers that aspire to become a major player in the future global market of electric cars. While many are still waiting for the general release of Nissan Leaf, Chevrolet Volt, or BYD e6, Zotye already started delivering its affordable, high-speed, all-electric cars to individual consumers. And they come as SUVs! Or, they look like them.
Li, Ziqiang, a Zotye dealer in Hangzhou, became the first individual to lease a Zotye 5008EV on July 26. While many EVs have already been on Chinese roads, this one is different in three basic ways. First, it functions (nearly) fully like a traditional, gasoline-powered vehicle. It is high-speed and high-way capable, having a top speed of 110 km/h and a range of 200 km. Second, it is licensed and insured just like a traditional car. Third, it is delivered to a private consumer. Because of this, Zotye describes Mr. Li as the "first individual EV-user in China."
Currently, consumers can only lease rather than buy a Zotye EV, for 2,500 yuan, or $370, a month. As government subsidies are on the way, the monthly pay is likely to go below $250 in a few months.
5008 EV is a cosmetically upgraded version of 2008EV. According to Zotye’s official web site, the lithium-ion (LiFePO4) battery packs on a 2008 EV have a total capacity of 25 kWh, and can be charged in two ways. Under 220V, standard in all Chinese families, it takes 6-8 hours to fully charge them. Under specially-installed 380V, it takes only 20 minutes to reach 80% of full capacity.
One, however, should not expect to get the same performance of a conventional SUV, as the electric motor can put out only 27kW (although it can spin out 220 Nm of torque).
So far, Mr. Li is happy about the car. His only regret is that he cannot drive it to Shanghai, which is a little over 200 km away, as there are no fast-charging stations on the road.