AIWAYS, the Shanghai-based personal mobility provider, is poised to embark on what it claims is the longest point-to-point drive of a prototype electric vehicle ever attempted. The initiative is part of the test and development programme for the AIWAYS U5 battery-electric SUV. This will be the first vehicle of its kind to be launched by a Chinese brand in Europe when it arrives in April 2020. Built on AIWAYS’ aluminium-steel More Adaptable Structure (MAS) platform, the new car will lead AIWAYS’ product offensive. AIWAYS will add one new model per year – including a range of electric family SUVs.
AIWAYS has invested in the entire value chain of the U5. This begins with the newly established €1.7bn (£1.5bn) Shangrao production plant in Jiangxi Province, where the U5 will be manufactured. This facility will initially be able to produce 150,000 cars a year with a second phase of expansion planned to bring capacity to 300,000 units.
The 14,231 km (8,843 miles) drive will start in Xi’an, capital of Shaanxi Province, China. This location was chosen because it marks the start of the Silk Road and has historical significance as a hub for trading, cultural exchange and communication between China and Europe.
AIWAYS told Connected Car that it is pushing the U5 to its limits to ensure it delivers the real-world performance, reliability and range demanded by European consumers. The engineering team will also explore how simple and easy it is to live with the U5. They will monitor driving and recharging as they pass through numerous countries where temperatures, road conditions and available charging infrastructures differ considerably.
Further details of the EV engineering drive will be disclosed when two U5 prototype vehicles set off on their journey from China on 17 July.