- Pair of engineering prototypes enters Finland after pan-Asian drive
- 9,166 kilometres travelled since departing Xi’an, China on 17 July
- Set to arrive in Frankfurt, Germany, in time for IAA 2019 in September
- Single point-to-point route of 14,231 km (8,843 miles)forms part of rigorous test programme; showcases how simple and easy U5 is to live with
- U5 to be launched in Europe from April 2020
- AIWAYS will be first Chinese brand to bring electric mid-sized SUV to Europe
Kuopio, Finland, 23 August – AIWAYS, the Shanghai-based personal mobility provider, has entered Europe for the first time, crossing the Russian border with Finland. The border crossing marks the latest stage of AIWAYS’ 14,231-kilometre (8,843-mile) prototype engineering drive from China to Western Europe.
A pair of prototype AIWAYS U5 battery-electric SUVs departed Xi’an in China on 17 July. Now, 9,166 kilometres (5,695 miles) later, the team of engineers and both vehicles have entered Europe. The convoy arrived in the city of Kuopio in the heart of Finnish Lakeland yesterday as the U5 SUV nears the end of its comprehensive development programme. The prototypes are due to arrive in Frankfurt, Germany in early September in time for the IAA 2019 motor show.
Alexander Klose, Executive VP Overseas Operation at AIWAYS, comments: “The AIWAYS U5 will be the first mid-sized electric SUV from China to go on-sale in Europe in 2020. This latest border crossing therefore marks a significant milestone in the car’s development, and the next couple of weeks will prove the car’s suitability for European drivers. While much of the development for the U5 is already complete, this epic, long-distance engineering drive allows us to put the car’s testing into practice.”
AIWAYS Chief Technical Officer Winter Wang added: “Our two U5 prototypes have now driven almost 10,000 kilometres in just one month, and the final stage of the drive now takes us through Europe and many of the world’s most developed markets for electric vehicle use and ownership. While the driving conditions may not be as physically challenging as some that we have encountered so far, the final few thousand kilometres of the drive will act as a litmus test for the car before European sales start next year.”
Highways and high roads in western Russia
In the most daring element of the U5’s engineering programme, the drive has so far seen a convoy of two prototypes venture through the Chinese Gobi Desert, tackle the Kazakh Steppe, and cross western Russia.
During the latest stage of the drive, the U5 development team passed through western Russia, visiting Kazan, Moscow and St Petersburg. After the rough and broken roads that cross much of Kazakhstan, the two most significant challenges faced in Russia have been a relative lack of public electric vehicle charging points and the higher energy demands of driving across the Southern Ural mountains.
AIWAYS engineers on the drive have used the lack of publicly-available charging points as an opportunity. Frequently relying on low-voltage power supplies, engineers have been able to optimise the U5’s charging logic to operate with a wide variety of charging facilities and varying voltages.
Driving across the Southern Urals, on mountain roads and long inclines, has also given engineers the chance to test the U5’s dynamics, suspension and power consumption characteristics. With greater strain placed on the powertrain as the vehicles climbs up steep slopes, power consumption is generally higher than that of driving in normal conditions. This portion of the drive has also put the battery pack’s thermal management system under close examination, with the 65 kWh power unit monitored throughout to ensure optimum performance.
Having entered Finland and the European Union for the first time, the U5 convoy will now drive north around the Gulf of Bothnia, within reach of the Arctic Circle. With more than 5,000 kilometres to go before its final destination, the AIWAYS prototype engineering drive is far from over.
The next two weeks will see scheduled stops in Sweden, Norway and Denmark. The car will then drive down through the Netherlands, Belgium and France, before entering Germany via the Swiss Alps. 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.
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.
AIWAYS media contacts:
EMMA Hai, AIWAYS Brand & PR Director
Emma Hopgood, PFPR Communications
+44 (0)7809 215894