China's electric car market is the largest market for such cars in the world. Let's look at this: selling the best-selling electric model is bigger than the entire annual car market of, let's say, Slovenia. But how close are these cars to the European taste?
Some are very far away, and some are very close. One of latter is Geely Emgrand EV. It is not surprising that this car is at a level that would easily match non-Chinese competition - Geely is nevertheless a group that owns not only this brand but also Volvo for example. And they are the ones who develop electrical components for Volvo. Emgrand EV is actually a showcase of how to make a car that could be sold anywhere in the world.
Emgrand EV is a 4.6 m long sedan (caravan or a five-door versions are not considered, because it's a car for the Chinese market) with enough space in both the cabin and the boot at the level of classic, non-electric sedans. Interior is at the level of European products - both by materials and by the quality of production. The same applies to the infotainment system with the possibility of all digital instrument cluster. Seats are comfortable, and also the managing of drivetrain is very efficient. The regeneration can be adjusted with the rotary knob on the center console in three stages (the strongest almost allows you to drive only with a gas pedal, the only omission is that the car will not completely stop without using the brake pedal), Emgrand also has the eco mode, which limits the highest speed and reduces the drivetrain overall capacity. In normal mode, it has the power of 120 kilowatts.
The engine is mounted in front and drives the front wheels through a single stage gearbox. Battery? 52 kilowatt hours of capacity are enough for more than 300 kilometers of reasonable reach (NEDC data says 400). We could estimate that consumption is on an average level of European EVs, which is somewhere around 14 to 15 kilowatt hours for 100 kilometers, which means the reach of approximately 330 or 350 kilometers. Of course it has the possibility of preheating and the possibility of preset charging time.
At fast charging stations, Emgrand can be charged with a power of up to 50 kilowatts, and charging at the AC socket is possible with the power of about 6 kilowatts, which is more than enough for everyday use.
And how does Emgrand drive? At least as good as Nissan Leaf, for example. It's quiet enough, the position behind the steering wheel is good and the steering wheel (as opposed to most Chinese cars) is adjustable in depth.
And the price? Of course, this is not known to Europe, but on the domestic market such Emgrand costs some 27,000 euros ahead of the subsidy. Such a price would be only 20 thousand in our country, and on the Chinese market even more because of higher subsidies: only about 17 thousand. And for such money, Geely would sell much more cars in Europe than they can produce.
In addition to Geely, we tried three of the Chinese best-selling five, only with the exception of the best-selling representative, BAIC EV-200, which was canceled by electronics.
The smallest is Cherry iEV5. The small four-seater is only 3.2 meters long, so the rear seats and the trunk are really more of urgent sort. The engine has only 30 kW of power, but because the battery has a capacity of 38 kWh, it reaches about 300 (or more than 250) kilometers. Inside? Very Chinese, so pretty cheap and with little equipment. Why is it so sold out? Because it is cheap - after subtracting the subsidy it costs well below 10 thousand euros.
A bit more expensive is BYD e5. It costs almost exactly ten thousand euros (after subtracting the subsidy), but it's a Geely-like limo with a much lower quality of materials and finish. The same applies to equipment, and the battery has a capacity of 38 kWh, which ultimately means a low 250 km range.
The fourth we tested is the JAC EV200, which is a bit smaller. In terms of its finish and usability, it is very similar to BYD, but it only has a battery capacity of only 23 kWh, and thus a short range (only about 120 kilometers). But because the price is also favorable, around 23 thousand before the subsidy, it still sells well.