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The Chinese electric vehicle revolution is in full swing and Australia is set to get another new EV brand in the coming years.
Called Aiways - loosely translated to ‘love is on the way’ in Chinese - the fledgling automotive brand started life in 2017 and is based in Shanghai, but with manufacturing operations in other parts of China and a European headquarters in Munich.
Aiways already sells the U5 electric SUV in a number of predominantly European countries including Germany, Belgium, France, the Netherlands, Italy and Denmark, as well as Israel.
A second model, the U6, is a coupe-style SUV based on the U5, and will go on sale in every market Aiways currently operates before the end of this year.
The manufacturer is committed to right-hand drive (RHD) production of its EV models and that’s good news for Australia’s EV market.
An Aiways spokesperson told CarsGuide that RHD production would commence in the next year, adding that Australia was definitely one of the markets the brand is eyeing.
They said that Australia won’t necessarily be the first RHD market to sell Aiways cars, “but we are closely observing and planning with it”.
According to the company, all Aiways models will be designed and engineered for global consumption, and each new model will be offered in every market Aiways has a presence. In fact, the spokesperson confirmed that Aiways planned to launch a new model - or a facelift of an existing model - every year for the foreseeable future.
While the spokesperson said it was too early to discuss sales targets, they said the U5 will be positioned to be an affordable proposition, albeit with a “fully equipped car to international safety and production standards”.
In Europe, pricing starts from $38,990 for the Standard trim, which equates to AUD$59,444, however pricing will almost certainly differ by the time the car gets here.
The sales channel for Australia is also yet to be locked in, but in Germany for example, Aiways sells cars via its website, as well as through a partnership with electronic retailer Euronics, while servicing is handled through repair chain, ATU.
This is a similar strategy to the one employed by fellow Chinese EV-maker BYD, that just launched in Australia.
BYD sells its cars online, and via a small but growing number of retail outlets owned by automotive retail giant, Eagers Automotive. Servicing is through the Mycar chain of service centres around Australia.
At 4680mm long, 1865mm wide and 1700mm tall, the five-seat U5 SUV is roughly the same size as the Toyota RAV4, although the U5’s 2800mm wheelbase is longer than the RAV4’s (2690mm).
Underpinning the U5 is Aiways’ MAS (More Adaptable Structure) scalable platform that is designed to use different platforms of varying capacities, and all-wheel drive.
The front-wheel drive U5 pairs a 63kWh battery with a 150kW/310Nm electric motor, allowing for a driving range of 400km or 410km depending on the grade.
The 0-100km/h dash is done in 7.5 seconds, and you can charge from 20 per cent to 80 per cent battery capacity using up to 90kW DC in 35 minutes.
Aiways’ so-called ‘sandwich’ battery structure gets its name from the multi-layer protection separating dry and wet areas within the cell, according to the company.
While there are shades of Polestar at the front, the U5 carries an appealing, squared-off SUV design, while the cabin has a horizontal theme and a 12.3-inch tablet screen.