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Chinese startup wants to upgrade e-scooter commuters with a ~$8,000 all-electric ‘ultra-compact’ car

Chinese start-up CHJ Automotive announced plans for what it calls a new all-electric ‘ultra-compact’ car.

Interestingly, the vehicle is aimed at one of the biggest and most electrified segments of ground transport: scooters.

CHJ Automotive’s plans came to light today in an interview with Co-Founder Kevin Shen on CNBC:

“In China, there are 340 million people (who) daily commute with e-scooters, but there is a strong demand for them to upgrade to something, but we cannot imagine all of them driving cars, so we want to give them something else, which is an ultra-compact car.”

CNBC was quick to call the company a “Tesla rival” even though they hardly compete in the same segment. I don’t think any buyer has ever asked themselves “should I buy a four-door sedan or a scooter on 4 wheels?”

Nonetheless, CHJ Automotive might be onto something with a step between a full-size car and a scooter, which are extremely popular in China, but also in Europe.

Shen told CNBC that they plan to launch the vehicle in both markets in March 2018. While it will be for sale in China, at a targeted price of 7,000 euros ($7,824) to 8,000 euros, the vehicle will only be available through a car-sharing platform in partnership with the French firm Clem in Europe.

The CEO revealed a few other details to CNBC:

“CHJ Automotive have not released official images yet of the car, but showed CNBC some of the initial designs of the ultra-compact vehicle. The car is 2.5 meters long and 1 meter wide. It runs on two batteries which are swappable, meaning that the car won’t need to stop for too long at a charging station to re-juice. Google’s in-car operating system called Android Auto is equipped in the vehicle.”

They are also working on a SUV, but it will have a hybrid powertrain and not an all-electric one, like the “ultra-compact” car.

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