Sure, the world may be collapsing all around us thanks to the relentless march of that spiny little bastard, the Coronavirus, but some important things are still pressing on, undaunted. One of those things is the progress of my order of a $US900 ($1,480) Chinese-built electric car from the huge website Alibaba. I’m delighted to inform you that Jalopnik’s car has been built, and I have pictures of our very car, fresh from the factory. So, you know, prepare yourself accordingly, likely involving a dropcloth.
You may recall that I’m calling the car a Changli NEMECA, from the name of the factory and what the car was called, a New Energy Mini Electric Car for Adults. If, somehow, you forgot what it looks like and aren’t near the glossy wall-sized poster I’m assuming you printed up of it, here it is:
When you buy a car off Alibaba, you work through the particular car factory’s personal agent; it’s more involved than, say, buying a $12 smartwatch off Wish.com or something like that, since there’s actual container ship shipping involved here.
My representative is a kind woman named Amy, and just a few days ago she had good news for me: “the product is ready.” To corroborate those four bold words, she provided some pictures of the, um, product:
Hot damn, right? Look at that baby! It’s got the CHANGLI-branded roof rack, full stripe kit that, for some puzzling reason includes the word “FASHION” on it, and a few details I didn’t notice before, like the fact that it seems to be centre steer and has a little lone sunvisor with a vanity mirror.
It also looks like the taillights are a bit different, with reverse on top, then turn signal, then tail/brake lamp. I’m ok with that, too—that’s the order the Peugeot 504 Wagons used, after all.
It looks like the bumpers are in the back seat and I’ll have to put those on myself, but that’s fine by me.
I was told today that it’s been all packed up, and I paid the remaining balance, so it should be good to go, getting crammed in some container ship and sailing halfway across the globe to meet me at the port of Wilmington, NC in, I suppose, a month or so.
You may recall that even though the car’s base price was $US930 ($1,530), when you add the battery (sold separately, like all good toys) and shipping, the total jumps to $US1,750 ($2,878).
That’s still really pretty cheap for an electric vehicle, especially when you consider that a new golf cart with no roof or windshield starts at about seven grand. I checked out some of my other Alibaba cheap-EV options, and even when comparing those, I think we got a good deal on ours.
For example, another supplier I contacted offered a similar EV for a total cost of $US2,800 ($4,605), over a grand more than the Changli. Plus, when I looked at the sales page for that EV, I noticed a weird detail:
There’s something weird going on with that door. Some kind of weird texture there? Computer! Zoom and enhance!
Huh. That’s, uh, that’s Mickey Mouse. For some reason, the car the Jiangsu Xinling Motorcycle Manufacturer is using on their order page seems to have a Mickey Mouse decal on the door, painted over in the orange paint that covers the car.
Why, exactly? There’s also a little OK decal to the right of Mickey. Why didn’t they remove the decal before they painted the car? Was this the only car they had to photograph? Was this an ex-Shanghai Disneyland support vehicle? I have so many questions.
You know what, though? Who gives a shit, right? I’m Changli man, I don’t care what those poor bastards who buy Jiangsu Xinlings do! Hell, I’d rather push a Changli than drive a Jiangsu Xinling, just like my hat says.
I wonder if I can buy a Calvin peeing on a Jiangsu Xinling sticker anywhere?
Oh, I should also mention that since I’ve bought this thing, the ads on the webpages I visit have gotten much, much better:
See what I mean?
Next step: picking it up from the port, and dealing with whatever customs bullshit that entails. Stay tuned.