What is it?
The U5 is a mid-size electric SUV from Chinese start-up company Aiways.
It will go on sale in mainland Europe in spring next year and should arrive in the UK in late 2020, priced from around £27,000. It has an admittedly over-optimistic NEDC range of 313 miles; the WLTP range, yet to be established, will be substantially less. At least 200 miles is needed for it to be competitive.
The U5’s 65kWh battery sounds reasonable, however, and it can be replenished from empty to 80% in 44 minutes using a 50kW DC rapid-charger.
A not-unalluring set of statistics, then, prompting the “who are Aiways?” question, to which the answer is a privately funded Chinese car company whose founders and key managers are mostly ex-Volkswagen-First Automobile Works and ex-Audi China, plus former GM Europe designer Ken Okuyama and a heavy-hitter from the artificial intelligence industry. Aiways plans to be big on connectivity and intelligent driver assistance systems.
The car you see here is a pre-production U5, one of a pair that has been driven from Xi’an in China to Frankfurt in Germany, the early products of stamping, welding, paint and final assembly plants that have already been constructed from an investment of well over £1 billion to date. A welter of suppliers are involved including Bosch (which developed the chassis), Lear and many other well-knowns.
So Aiways appears to be a serious car company – one that will build only electric vehicles. The line-up is planned to include a five-door coupé, smaller and larger SUVs and even a high-performance sports car.
The U5 is the first of this new range. Its most direct rivals are the Kia e-Niro and Hyundai Kona Electric, both of which it looks likely to usefully undercut price-wise, plus the MG ZS EV, which is cheaper but has only a 40kW battery.