I feel like we’re currently living on the cusp of a very exciting revolution in the car market, a revolution that we can all take part in and enjoy, because it’s a revolution of super-cheap shitbox EVs. I myself have done what I could to introduce you to one of the cheapest, the remarkable sub-$1.300 Changli. It seems now there’s a new player on the scene claiming to be the cheapest EV you can buy in America: the Kandi K27.
I’m sure you maths whizzes out there realised that the Chinese-built Kandi K27’s price of $18,174 (with federal U.S. tax credit; otherwise they’re asking $27,961) is a hell of a lot more than the Changli’s $1,300 (well, $1,678 with batteries, and about $4,600 after all the shipping and customs stuff) but, to be fair, the K27 is a hell of a lot more car.
I mean, relatively, of course.
While lacking much of the Changli’s whimsical charm (and rakish “FASHION” stickers) the K27 isn’t terrible looking, seeming a bit like a new Mini squished a bit to fit on a tight bookshelf and with the bezel of a grille surrounding an area of body-coloured plastic that is notably arounbd 98 per cent not-grille.
It’s an actual four-door car with a hatchback, though still quite small; compared to a Mitsubishi Mirage hatchback, it’s a foot shorter in length, about eight inches narrower, but about four inches taller.
Significantly, unlike the Changli and it’s horse-plus-a-horse-foetus 1.1 horsepower motor, the K27 has an electric motor good for about 26 HP, which is enough to propel it to a top speed of about 101 km/h, meaning that you can actually drive this thing on the highway, even if it’s just barely.
The 17.7 kWh lithium-ion battery pack is claimed to be enough to shove the 1,030 kg car for about 161 km, but that’s just an estimate.
Interestingly, this same car can be found on Alibaba, just like the Changli, though with some key differences. For one thing, the price is much less at $18,175, down to $16,777 if you decide to order seven or more.
This version seems to just have lead-acid batteries, but lithium is mentioned as an option. Most of the other specs seem to line up, though the Alibaba page says it’s rear-wheel drive, and not Front-wheel drive like Kandi America’s site says. I can’t see any hint of a rear differential, so I’m leaning to it being FWD.
Interior pictures show a modern-looking dashboard with a big (blue?) centre-stack LCD screen and, confusingly, a tachometer on the dash. I guess electric motors have revolutions per minute to count, too, if you really wanted to?
Compared to the Changli, this is vastly closer to “real car” status, though, I am curious if non-me American buyers will be as quick to slot this 26 HP EV into the real-car ranks as I am.
Personally, I feel like right around $18,175 after the tax credits just isn’t quite cheap enough to make most buyers accept a modern car with Citroën 2CV-levels of power, even if it’s an EV.
I think this car selling for right at the magic $13,980 mark would be enough to generate some kind of following that could be built upon, though.
Still, I’m quite curious to drive one of these; I mean, compared to the 1.1 HP of the Changli, this thing must feel like a supercar.