Will China produce world's first mass market, all-electric ute? | The Driven
Source: CarNewsChina.com

The race to bring an all-electric utility vehicle to the global market has a new contender, with the Nissan – Dongfeng joint venture unveiling a brawny looking Rich 6 EV ute (or pick-up) that is reportedly due to go on sale in China later this month.

The news is nothing official – no comments yet from either company – but surfaced on Tuesday via the Facebook-based news media site, CarNewsChina.com, alongside some photos of the electric ute.

According to Tycho de Feijter, the Dutch national and long-time China resident who runs the site, the Rich 6 is powered by a single electric motor with 160 hp; has a 68kWh battery, and a range of 403km (NEDC).

The electric vehicle’s top speed is 100km/h and fast-charging can get the battery up to 80 per cent in 45 minutes.

But perhaps most importantly, the Dongfeng Rich 6 EV is “a big truck,” as de Feijter puts it. And this appears to be what people want, if the hype around other electric utes that are in the making is anything to go by.

According to CarNewsChina.com, this one comes as a double cab five-seater, with a bed-size of 1510/1562/475, a curb weight of 1983kg, and maximum load of 490kg.

Compared to the petrol version, the EV gets a new grille and some blue detailing “Blue is the colour of EVs in China. Not green, like in the rest of the world,” de Feijter says.

As for the price, that hasn’t been released yet, but CarNewsChina.com predicts it will sit somewhere around 130.000 yuan (after subsidies) or $US18,900 – which puts it at around the $27,000 mark in Australia (although more if you factor in our no-subsidy situation).

And that seems very cheap! We look forward to hearing more once the ute is officially launched in China.

Certainly, the power coupling of Japan’s Nissan and China’s Dongfeng is one to watch, combining Nissan’s huge and trail-blazing EV market success with China’s manufacturing prowess, stable policy support, and huge consumer demand.

As Nissan’s senior vice president and chairman of the Management Committee for China, Makoto Uchida, said in an op-ed published here on Wednesday, the two companies have made electrification a central part of their business plan.

And according to that plan, they aim to have 20 electrified models (both BEVs and e-POWER, their hybrid electric motor and petrol engine alternative) by 2022.

By this date they are also aiming to have 30 per cent of all sales electrified, three key e-components shared by EV and e-POWER to be 100 per cent localised within three years, and more battery recycling, reuse, and power storage facilities to be built by 2022.

“We will follow an approach that brings the right products to market only when the market is ready and design products to meet the specific needs of Chinese consumers,” Uchida writes.

“We are confident in this approach. However, we can’t do it alone. We need the continued collaboration with the government, both central and local, and our partners on this approach.”

As noted above, demand for an all-electric ute is certainly present in Western markets, although none have made it to mass-market production quite yet.

Tesla’s Elon Musk has promised to unveil his version of an e-pick-up sometime this year, complete with “cyberpunk styling” and a price-tag Musk last month said would sit at less than $US50,000.

And fellow US company Rivian just this month talked up plans to burst onto the EV market with a production run of up to 40,000 electric utes and SUVs in its first year – slated to kick off near the end of 2020.

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