Chinese electric vehicle (EV) startup CHJ Automotive has starting taking pre-orders for its first electric SUV model, Leading Ideal ONE, with deliveries slated to begin in the fourth quarter.
The mid-to-large sized all-electric SUV features a range-extending system, which uses gasoline to power long-distance drives. Its New European Driving Cycle (NEDC) range is 800 kilometers (around 500 miles), said the company, almost double that of its rival, Nio’s premium model ES6, which purportedly has a maximum range of 300 miles.
Priced at RMB 328,000 (around $48,850) after government subsidies, the model ONE comes in slightly lower than the ES6’s $52,000 price tag. The Leading Ideal ONE is now available for pre-order with a deposit of RMB 5,000, the company said at a press event on Wednesday in the eastern Chinese city of Changzhou, where its production is based. Models will be available for test drives in the third quarter.
“The next few months will be the most crucial period for the company. Vehicles cannot be fixed immediately like apps if something goes wrong… We have only one chance,” (our translation) Sina Tech cited Li Xiang, founder and CEO of CHJ, as saying. Prior to his work in EV, Li founded the country’s largest car information portal, Autohome, in 2005, which went public on the New York Stock Exchange in 2013. The Chinese auto veteran, who is also one of the Nio investors, requires employees above director level to be among the first buyers to provide feedback.
Backed by Changzhou government funding and investment firm Matrix Partners China, CHJ has raised RMB 5.7 billion over the past three years.
Nio is one of the few Chinese EV makers that has actually delivered cars to customers, though it recorded massive losses in 2018 to the tune of RMB 9.6 billion. So far, a total of 15,337 Nio ES8 vehicles have been delivered, according to a Weibo announcement released Apr. 2. Baidu-backed WM Motors has delivered 4,085 of the 100,000 EX5 models it targeted as a goal for 2019. XPeng Motors only shipped 522 cars in 2018, and Chinese consumers have stated that they have been “waiting as long as three months to get a real car,” according to media reports.
Beijing’s massive subsidies in the domestic EV market has raised concerns that manufacturers are too reliant on government funding, holding them back from developing better technology and vehicles. “Even mainstream manufacturers have encountered quite a few problems in their first electric models,” (our translation) He Xiaopeng, chairman of XPeng Motors, told local media, explaining that Chinese EV makers need time to improve the quality and build up mass production of their vehicles.