Shanghai-based personal mobility provider Aiways is attempting what is believed to be the longest point-to-point drive of a prototype electric vehicle. A pair of prototype Aiways U5 battery-electric SUVs departed yesterday from Xi’an in China, and are now being driven 14,231km (8,843 miles) to Frankfurt, Germany.
The vehicles, which are nearing the end of a comprehensive test and development program, are scheduled to complete their epic journey in September – just in time for IAA 2019. The U5 e-SUV is slated to be launched in Europe from April 2020, making Aiways the first Chinese brand to bring electric SUVs to Europe.
Alexander Klose, executive VP Overseas Operation at Aiways, said: “This unprecedented drive presents a unique chance to validate and fine-tune key aspects of the U5, from powertrain characteristics to the durability of thousands of components. By traversing thousands of kilometres in some truly challenging conditions we will demonstrate how simple and easy EV ownership can be for today’s car buyers.”
Aiways’ chief technical officer Winter Wang added: “To date, the development process has enabled us to create a user-friendly SUV with great depth of ability, and this long-distance engineering drive on some very challenging road conditions will ensure the car offers the real-world electric performance, reliability and range demanded by Chinese and European consumers.”
14,231 kilometres from China to Germany on electric power
The audacious EV engineering drive will involve two U5 prototype vehicles – and a team of engineers – travelling first through the Gobi Desert of northern China. Following routes used for centuries by Silk Road traders, the convoy will arrive in Kazakhstan at the end of July.
The convoy will then enter Russia, passing through Moscow and St Petersburg before entering Europe through Finland. The northernmost leg of the drive takes the prototypes above the Gulf of Bothnia, with scheduled stops in Sweden, Norway and Denmark, before entering Germany. Once in western Europe, the cars will also visit Amsterdam, Paris and Zurich, before a final drive over the Alps and back into Germany. The journey will end in front of the Frankfurt exhibition halls during the first week of September, shortly before the IAA (Frankfurt International Motor Show) opens its doors to the public.
Demanding, long-distance examination
The drive marks a significant stage of the development cycle for the new Aiways U5, giving engineers the chance to subject the car to a demanding, long-distance examination. Testing two vehicles on some of the world’s most demanding urban and rural roads – over a combined distance of more than 28,000 kilometres – will help Aiways evaluate quality and reliability, and determine optimal chassis settings.
The fully-electric ‘E-Drive’ powertrain – claimed to be the most compact electric powertrain of any zero-emission vehicle – is one of the key areas which Aiways engineers will focus on. The drive will test the battery pack and motor in challenging, evolving conditions, and will enable the development team to monitor the powertrain, as well as its electrical control and heat management systems, in real-time. The data captured from the drive will allow engineers to validate energy consumption in varying conditions, charging and fast-charging capabilities, and the vehicle’s low state-of-charge performance.
In addition, the U5 prototype’s multiple electrical systems will come under intense scrutiny, to ensure that the final production vehicle’s numerous safety, connectivity, powertrain and convenience features operate at their best. The U5’s braking, suspension and steering characteristics will also be monitored and honed, with the drive taking the convoy through mountain regions and some of the hardest road conditions that owners might expect to encounter.
Aiways is joined on the epic road trip by new strategic partner Allianz Partners, who will be providing roadside assistance should it be needed over the 14,231-kilometre journey.
The U5 all-electric SUV is a statement of intent for the Aiways brand as it aims to bring affordable, connected and local zero-emissions family transport to the European market by April 2020.