The Chinese auto industry may be relatively new, but record levels of pollution and plenty of government prodding already have it diving headlong into electric car development.
The latest electric car to come out of the country is the Dongfeng Aeolus E30, which recently started production at the company’s plant in Wuhan.
Named after the Greek god of winds, the Aeolus E30 looks like a Smart ForTwo knockoff and comes in two sizes: regular wheelbase, and long wheelbase, four-seat E30L.
A 25-kilowatt (33.5hp) electric motor can only muster enough power to get the Aeolus E30 up to 49mph, while range is reportedly pegged at 99 miles per charge. A full charge for the 18-kilowatt-hour lithium-phosphate battery pack takes about eight hours, but there appears to be a DC fast-charging option as well, with an 80-percent charge likely taking a half hour.
The Aeolus E30 is government-owned Dongfeng’s first attempt at a home-built, mass-market electric car. The company launched a rebadged version of the Nissan LEAF called the Venucia E30last September, as part of the joint Dongfeng-Nissan Venucia brand.
Government policy has forced foreign carmakers to partner with their Chinese counterparts in order to sell cars in the country. In addition to its relationship with Nissan, Dongfeng has also worked with Honda and PSA Peugeot-Citroen, of which it is now a partial owner.
However, these partnerships haven’t made it easier for Chinese carmakers to sell their products outside of China. BYD (Build Your Dreams) made several attempts to bring its e6 electric crossover to the US, but eventually gave up and decided to focus on exporting electric buses instead.
US sales of the E30 would be an even longer shot. Even if Dongfeng could put it on sales in the States, its small size and limited top speed would make the this car inadequate for most US drivers.
The E30 would be better suited to European cities, and perhaps Dongfeng’s new closeness to PSA will see it exported there in the future. Even that is far from certain, though.