Here’s the cheapest electric vehicle in the US — and it comes from China

It’s… not pretty.


Kandi

Affordability is tough when it comes to electric cars. Even mass-market EVs are often just a little out of reach for the average car buyer, especially considering how much further a dollar stretches when it comes to a traditional car with an engine.

So, can Kandi and its K27 tempt you with an unusually low price? This is a Chinese electric car that will be the most affordable EV for sale in the US later this year. Kandi revealed the K27 alongside the more expensive K23 model on Wednesday and plans to showcase both cars during a virtual event on Aug. 18.

The K27 costs just $19,999. Kandi promises it’s a no-haggle, no-nonsense price. And that’s before the $7,500 federal tax credit. Factor the tax credit in and the price quickly becomes $12,999. That’s cheap for any new car, but, well, the price is sort of reflected in the K27’s looks.

Honestly, it looks like some sort of weird Smart and Mini Cooper combination. If it snaps necks, it’ll be because onlookers are curious what the hell just passed them. We only have one photo of the interior, but it looks pretty no-frills as well. There’s a tablet-style infotainment screen (with a blue display that looks bricked in the photo?) and a gear selector below. Next to it sits a dial for various modes. I wouldn’t expect soft touch points or anything fancy, but it should check off the box for basic transportation.

Under the odd design sits a single electric motor that gets its power from a 17.69-kilowatt-hour battery. Drivers should be able to go 100 miles on a single charge, and Kandi acknowledges it won’t be the car for long road trips; it’s more suited for city dwellers.

While the K27’s price makes headlines, the K23 seems more like it’s actually geared toward American drivers. It’s a small hatchback that looks like an awkward mashup between a Honda Fit and a Smart, but the cockpit looks nice enough. A big, vertical touchscreen sits in the middle and the materials look far nicer. Then again, we only have a couple of photos of the car.

The K23 is costlier at $29,999 before tax credits, but Kandi says it will go 188 miles on a charge. I can’t tell if it’s an odd proposition or a smart one. A Nissan Leaf, which looks much, much nicer, costs about $1,600 more, but it only has a 150-mile range to start. A Chevy Bolt EV is over $5,000 more, but it packs a 259-mile range.

I guess we’ll have to see if Americans will stick their hands in the Kandi jar. The K27 and K23 will first launch in the Dallas-Fort Worth area by the end of this year.


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