I have a strange and confused respect for the Low Speed Electric Vehicle industry in China. The whole industry is like that one crazy-ass friend you had in high school who would do anything, and never gave a shit about the consequences or what anyone thought. Sure, they’re probably dead or in jail now, but they pretty much defined cool. When a company shamelessly rips off a car like the Volkswagen Up!, there’s some of that same wonderful DGAF at work.
The Low Speed Electric Vehicle (LSEV) market in China is sort of on the fringes of legality as it is. It’s not really considered part of the country’s automobile production, they’re illegal in some major cities like Shanghai, and yet there’s tons of them getting cranked out all the time.
Also, they are completely trapped in a severe fuck-draught, because they have absolutely no fucks available to donate when it comes to the concept of the legality or ethics of shamelessly copying other cars. The Weikerui V7 and the Jujie Liwei are brilliant examples of this.
Our friends over at CarNewsChina were at the 2017 Jinan EV show, and spotted these two clones. Incredibly, both these clones seem to share the exact same body, with just some minor differences in trim parts, lights, and badging.
That’s because there’s companies that just produce the bodies for these cars, and they can sell them to as many or few small EV producers as they feel like, allowing for one cloned design to thrive and spread, like cloned weeds.
The first one, the Weikerui V7 is remarkably close to the VW Up! design, right down to the logo, which manages to look almost exactly like the VW logo obliquely or from a distance. The Jujie takes a few more liberties with the design, breaking the trademark Up! front bumper inset and moving the nose badge location, but other than that both of these cars are dead ringers for the Up.
Could you swap those light units or the doors or hatch for ones on a real Up? I wouldn’t be surprised if you could.
Of course, there’s big differences between these cars and even the electric VW e-Up! The LSEVs both use old-school lead-acid batteries and have motors in the 10 HP range. These cars take around 10 seconds to hit 30 MPH and have a claimed range of around 70 miles or so.
Pretty laughable, sure, but for general around-town use, these things certainly work, and they only cost around $2800-$3600 or so. CarNewsChina also mentions Weikerui says they have a full (as in not low-speed) EV version with bigger motor and better range, and even that one is only around $5000.
To compare, the real Volkswagen e-Up has an 82 HP motor and much better range, but is about $30,000.
Look, if all your driving is just in some crowded city in China, your friends are always 20 feet away or have really shitty vision, you should just save yourself $25 grand and get one of these little knockoffs.