We Took The World's Cheapest EV To A Car Manufacturing Expert. He Lost His Shit

Let’s be honest, here, you knew this was coming. We teased it even and, besides, what’s the point of having the World’s Cheapest Electric Car if you’re not going to take it to the man who’s arguably the world’s leading expert on how much it costs to build cars? There is no point without that, that’s what, so that’s why I trucked 800 or so pounds of Changli all the way to Detroit. I wanted Sandy Munro to get a really good look at the thing and tell me what he thought. And that’s exactly what happened.

Now, the real way to do this would have been to sacrifice the Changli on the altar of curiosity and let the Munro team take it to bits, cutting things in half, stress-testing components, chewing the upholstery, whatever it is they do to suss out the truth of manufactured things.

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But, I’ve grown fond of my little Changli, and have more plans for it. Besides, they’re cheap, so they can buy their own damn Changli to tear apart.

Speaking of costs, I know Sandy occasionally, likely due to excitement, referred to the cost of the car as $800. It’s actually about $930, plus about $300 for the batteries, so the car itself can be thought of as $1,200. And, yes, I have the receipts:

Illustration for article titled We Took The Worlds Cheapest EV To A Car Manufacturing Expert. He Lost His Shit
Screenshot: Jason Torchinsky
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Remember as you watch this, Sandy knows his shit. He understands how cars are built and how much it costs better than almost anyone, and he’s pretty genuinely baffled by this thing like we all are.

What’s especially interesting that I didn’t realize is the rubber-based method used to mount the glass and the headlights—it’s almost like a caulk, hand-applied, in a method that works well but seems to be very unfamiliar.

It was hilarious getting this thing on the lift. It’s so small it’s pretty much at the limit of the lift’s adjustment, and while it felt precarious, it was safe enough. I mean, no one got crushed, so that’s a win, right?

It’s worth mentioning that when Sandy talks about the Club Car (a popular golf cart) he’s talking as an insider, as his company did a lot of engineering work for Club Cars. So, the man knows what it takes to build a golf cart, arguably the closest production vehicle to this in America.

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Oh, and if you can find a better video of a man being astounded by stainless steel tubes, I’d love to see it.

I don’t think we got complete answers here just yet, but I’m hoping Munro will get one to completely disassemble, and maybe we can learn more. If and when that happens, I’ll be sure to tell you all about it.

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Maybe they grow them in pods?

Senior Editor, Jalopnik • Running: 1973 VW Beetle, 2006 Scion xB, 1990 Nissan Pao, 1991 Yugo GV Plus, 2020 Changli EV • Not-so-running: 1977 Dodge Tioga RV (also, buy my book!: https://rb.gy/udnqhh)

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DISCUSSION

One very interesting comment you made:

“These things aren’t allowed in the big urban centres like Beijing ...”

*Apologies for a not precise quotation ...

What struck me about this is the importance of not using a “one size fits all” model when looking at vehicle regulation, especially when you want to encourage certain kinds of changes.

For example, allowing small vehicles built to lighter standards in areas with less dense traffic has some merit; as does the idea of (for example) banning ICE vehicles from dense urban areas, while still allowing the same in rural areas where distances are longer and charging would be an issue still.

In other words, have we in North America been a little too “one size fits all” in our approach to transportation, and maybe need to revisit what we are trying to achieve with various kinds of regulation? (E.g. Does every vehicle need to be “freeway capable”?, Are there places where small, more simply made, vehicles are appropriate and we should be looking at enabling that).

*Just rambling extemporaneously - I see possibilities here that maybe are worth exploring further. 

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