Shanghai, 3 March – AIWAYS, the Shanghai-based personal mobility provider, has launched the European version of its all-electric U5 SUV. Available from August 2020, the U5 will be the first electric vehicle (EV) from a Chinese startup to go on sale in Europe. Its entrance will provide Europeans with an exciting and well-equipped SUV in the growing but option-limited EV market.
With sharp and striking design features, the U5 looks the part. Its bold presence is intended to mark an exciting beginning for AIWAYS and establish the brand’s design language. Beneath its dynamic surfaces lies a unique electric powertrain and some of the most advanced automotive technology available today.
With over 400km range (WLTP), the DC fast-charging compatible 63kWh battery unit is the first of its kind, designed and developed at AIWAYS’ own R&D center in Jiading, Shanghai. The U5’s electric motor produces 140kW and 315Nm of torque, giving the zero-emission SUV the performance to confidently commute or accelerate toward adventure.
U5 will be made available in Europe this August exclusively via a direct-to-customer sales model, and not retailed or leased through traditional car dealerships. The new sales model will streamline the traditional car buying ‘journey’, and ensure that using and maintaining a U5 is as simple as possible. A new AIWAYS dedicated European website is being prepared that will enable prospective U5 buyers to research models, book test drives, configure vehicles and sign up to usage periods that suits their needs.
The U5 will be available in three trim levels: Technic, Standard and Premium. While the advanced systems and driving performance are shared between them, the higher-end models offer some material, aesthetic and comfort enhancements.
Alex Klose, EVP of Overseas Markets at AIWAYS, explained: “We are thrilled to be bringing the U5 to the European market. There are currently very few zero emission mid-size SUV options available in the region, despite demand for electric vehicles rising. With changing legislation and improved public perception, now is the ideal time to introduce AIWAYS and launch the U5 in Europe.”
The design brief for the AIWAYS U5 powertrain required a new level of intelligent engineering and performance not yet seen on a battery electric vehicle in the European mid-size SUV segment. This was an influential factor in AIWAYS’ decision to design and produce its own battery packs, with the company looking to set new benchmarks for efficiency, range, and performance.
Winter Wang, Chief Technical Officer, AIWAYS, explained: “We knew from the beginning that the design and capability of the U5’s powertrain would be central to its commercial success. With a unique battery design powering a high-performance electric motor, the U5 provides European motorists with practical range and efficient recharging. With three switchable driving modes and our advanced E-Drive system, the U5 is a capable SUV that can consistently meet the driver’s needs.”
With a capacity of 63kWh, the battery unit in the AIWAYS U5 is capable of delivering enough charge to cover more than 400km according to the WLTP cycle. For the ultimate convenience, the U5’s battery can be rapid-charged from 30% to 80% in just 27 minutes using a DC charger. It can also charge from 20% to 100% in less than 8hours using a (6.6kW Type 2) AC charger for overnight at-home recharging.
The U5 achieves its impressive performance thanks to a state-of-the-art ‘sandwich’ structure battery pack, developed and manufactured by AIWAYS using proven CATL modules. This is the first of its kind in the world, further demonstrating the company’s pioneering R&D capabilities. It also includes an intelligent thermal management system, developed and patented by AIWAYS that significantly improves thermal efficiency.
The sandwich battery structure gets its name from the multi-layer protection separating dry and wet areas within the cell. The ‘sandwich’ structure differs from traditional automotive battery packs in that it adds an isolation plate between the battery module and the cooling plate. The principal benefit of this arrangement is that it dramatically improves vehicle safety and battery stability by ensuring efficient cooling and preheating.
The separation also means that it is impossible for leaking coolant to enter the battery module, even following a substantial impact. This avoids the risk of fire or explosion caused by a short circuit.
To further improve safety, a shock protection space is incorporated into the ‘sandwich’ design. This 15mm space separates the bottom of the battery pack plate and the battery module, giving the module an additional layer of protection in the event of an impact and reducing the risk of damage.
This impact protection space also functions as partial insulation, reducing the rate of heat transfer between the external environment and the battery module. Extensive cold weather testing has demonstrated that it provides a much-improved energy storage capacity in winter conditions. Using this novel battery design, the U5 was able to achieve a real-world range of close to 300km at below 0 Celsius. The insulation also means that once the battery is warm, through either charging or discharge, it retains enough heat for optimum operation.
The energy-dense ‘sandwich’ battery pack is mated to AIWAYS’ unique power unit. The electric motor develops a peak power of 140kW and 315Nm of torque at a maximum 16,000rpm. The unit is smoothly integrated into the AIWAYS U5’s lightweight, rigid construction. This peak motor speed is 25% higher than average for current production EVs, meaning that the motor can be smaller and lighter, resulting in a 10% higher power density (181Wh/kg) than equivalent products in the sector.
The E-Drive system, which includes the electric motor, gearbox, and inverter, is the most compact design currently offered by any EV manufacturer. It is 15% smaller than similar systems and has been designed from the outset to fit a variety of different vehicle applications in A, B or C-segment cars. The E-Drive system in the U5 is mounted at the front of the vehicle for front-wheel drive but E-Drive also has the potential to be configured for rear-wheel drive or four-wheel drive. To minimize size and weight, a single-speed reduction gearbox is integrated within the electric motor housing.
Power delivery and battery management are controlled centrally by the Vehicle Control Unit (VCU). The U5 offers three distinct driving modes, “Eco”, “Normal” and “Sport”, allowing the driver varying levels of throttle response and performance.
The AIWAYS U5 uses pioneering engineering and technology to offer class-leading safety, outstanding build quality, and an engaging driving experience. At the heart of this ethos is AIWAYS’ innovative, modular and scalable MAS platform.
Developed by AIWAYS engineering team in China, the car’s body in white (BIW) uses a 52% aluminum and 48% high-strength steel mix. The steel used is extremely strong – around four times stronger than conventional high-strength steel. Pioneering bonding, casting and forming techniques make the chassis around 50% stiffer than equivalent steel construction.
Aluminum high pressure die casting allowed AIWAYS to reduce part count, saving time and development cost. It also created a lighter and more rigid overall construction. The result is a vehicle with a curb weight of 1,700-1,750 kg, including a 65kWh battery. This gives the U5 greater range and improved efficiency, without compromising its precise and fun handling characteristics.
Winter Wang, Chief Technical Officer, AIWAYS, said: “Optimized combinations of materials, pioneering manufacturing processes and advanced technologies set the U5 apart from the competition. We invested heavily in research and development to create a vehicle that prioritizes occupant safety and comfort while being relatively lightweight for a vehicle in this category. This reduced weight in combination with the E-Drive system offers a rewarding driving experience. The U5 also packs a wide variety of technologies like face recognition, driver fatigue monitoring, in-car child monitoring and a host of advanced driver assistance systems.”
Occupant and pedestrian safety are critical. Extensive virtual and physical testing was conducted to ensure the U5 met high safety standards. It is also fitted with a number of innovative safety and advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) to give the driver and occupants total peace of mind.
A lane departure prevention system not only warns the driver if they are about to stray from their lane but also makes small adjustments to the steering if the driver does not respond to the warning. Above speeds of 60km/h (37mph), the AIWAYS U5 uses an automated system to remain in the middle of the lane.
To further reduce the risk of collision, the U5 is fitted with a blind-spot warning system, alerting the driver when a vehicle or cyclist is passing alongside the vehicle. A Rear Cross Traffic Alert (RCTA) system warns the driver when a vehicle is about to pass behind the U5.
AIWAYS has equipped the U5 with Auto Emergency Braking (AEB), which automatically applies the car’s brakes when a pedestrian, cyclist or vehicle passes in front of the car. This works alongside a cyclist warning system that alerts occupants if they are in danger of opening their door into the path of a passing cyclist.
For added convenience, the AIWAYS U5 is offered with Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC), which not only maintains a safe space to the vehicle in front but can also bring the vehicle to a halt when traffic ahead stops. Intelligent High Beam Control (IHBC) automatically operates the vehicle’s high-beam headlights while the U5’s Parking Assistant system is another practical addition, automatically maneuvering the vehicle into a parking space at the touch of a button.
Safety testing was part of the U5’s European homologation process, with AIWAYS successfully achieving certification in September 2019. With the support of independent test provider TÜV Rheinland, the U5 passed all safety aspects, including pedestrian protection and frontal and side collision occupant protection.
The AIWAYS U5 became the first electric vehicle from a Chinese startup to be tested by Euro NCAP in December 2019, achieving three stars. NCAP found the U5 to be structurally safe, and AIWAYS has addressed and resolved the other issues highlighted in the testing.
Specifically, AIWAYS has updated software that controls the timing of airbag deployment, offering greater occupant protection in the event of a severe side-on collision.
While engineered to be a mid-size SUV for urban and suburban driving, the AIWAYS U5 is also entertaining and rewarding to drive on faster, more demanding roads. Thanks to its rigid, lightweight construction and low center of gravity, the AIWAYS U5 offers optimal driver engagement.
The AIWAYS U5 is equipped with MacPherson independent suspension at the front and independent multi-link suspension at the rear. This setup simultaneously provides superb cornering ability and a smooth and compliant ride. The U5’s electric power-assisted steering system strikes the perfect balance between practical operation and engaging driver feel.
Front and rear 314 mm disc brakes with twin-piston calipers give the driver the utmost confidence in the U5’s stopping power. AIWAYS iBoost regenerative braking system recuperates energy that would otherwise be lost through braking to recharge the battery.
The AIWAYS U5 features connectivity and artificial intelligence not yet seen in a vehicle of its price point. To create a harmonious connection between man and machine, the U5 uses face recognition to understand who is driving the car and monitor driver awareness, issuing alerts if the driver appears to be getting drowsy and suggesting they stop for a break.
Driver and passenger alike can use a range of practical voice commands in the U5. These can perform many functions, allowing occupants to manage all aspects of the infotainment and comfort systems, using just their voice.
The innovative biological monitoring system also enables AI-powered in-car childcare, allowing the front passenger to easily check on children sitting the rear seats using the front infotainment screen. Simple alerts also inform those in the front when a child drops something on the floor, such as a toy or drink.
Smartphone connectivity is essential in modern vehicles and the U5 integrates seamlessly with the driver’s mobile. The driver can then use their phone to access the vehicle as well as set the heating controls and remotely manage charging functionality.
To realize its mission of “intelligent and simplified technology” AIWAYS has combined functionality and novel aesthetics to create a unique design for its brand-establishing first vehicle. The AIWAYS U5 has been designed to offer drivers an unparalleled electric automotive experience, with a bold presence and a dedication to functional, well-rounded performance and features.
Dongfei Luo, chief designer, AIWAYS, said: “The design of the U5 brings ideas of the future to the present. It is striking in a way that few SUVs are, with many signature elements that will inform the future of the AIWAYS brand. It was a major task to design an exciting and unique vehicle that also took into consideration our practical engineering requirements and goals. While established brands have a proven aesthetic language, we were starting with a blank slate. It was a significant challenge, but a wonderful once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”
The AIWAYS U5 follows a confident design language, with a harmonious and dynamic body shape. It evokes a connection between modern craftsmanship and technology of the future. As AIWAYS maiden vehicle, its design will shape the brand in the coming decade, requiring a timeless aesthetic that will inform future vehicles.
The smooth, closed front of the vehicle boasts a sharp, contoured design. Meticulous aerodynamic engineering has resulted in a class-leading drag coefficient of 0.29 and an aggressive but sleek appearance. Two air intakes flank the nose, providing crucial airflow to cool the battery packs and the front braking system.
The bold SUV body shape is highlighted by a set of 19-inch aluminum wheels. The long wheelbase, short overhangs, and wide track give the U5 modern and attractive dimensions. It combines an SUV’s commanding seating position with the space and comfort of a family car.
L-shaped LED headlights conform to the shoulder line and meet at the center, while H-shaped rear lights emphasize the width of the vehicle. The elegant retractable door handles also help to reduce wind resistance, further improving efficiency.
Measuring 4,680mm in length, 1,865mm in width and 1,684mm in height, the AIWAYS U5 is a compact SUV with a generously sized interior. It achieves the perfect balance between objective customer needs and unique design features. With a long wheelbase of 2,800mm, the chassis can accommodate numerous battery packs. The unique MAS (More Adaptable Structure) platform allows the fitment of different powertrains, with varying capacities, as well as all-wheel drive.
The U5’s compact mid-size exterior disguises a spacious interior. Characterized by organic shapes, pleasant materials, and warm colors, it provides both functionality and ultimate driving comfort.
Innovative technology is truly at the heart of the AIWAYS U5’s interior. A large dashboard dominates the cockpit with a clean horizontal design and state-of-the-art digital display. A 12.3-inch tablet-like screen is accessible from the driver and passenger side, enabling both to adjust the vehicle and access the infotainment system. An 8-speaker audio system provides a rich audio experience.
Head and legroom for the front and rear passengers is impressive for a vehicle of this segment, while integrated and adjustable sports seats offer optimum body support. An optional large panoramic sunroof adds to the vibrant interior, creating a light and airy atmosphere. The boot has a capacity of 1543 liters, providing ample room for active and adventurous owners.
To test AIWAYS revolutionary new U5 SUV, the company sent two prototype vehicles on a 15,022 km (9,930 miles) point-to-point journey. Starting in Xi’an, China, the team of engineers drove the SUVs through adverse and extreme conditions over 52 days and 12 countries, arriving in Frankfurt, Germany, in time for IAA 2019.
In the process, the AIWAYS U5 Engineering Drive Team set a new Guinness World Record for the ‘longest journey by an electric vehicle (prototype)’ between July and September 2019. The route took them through the harsh Gobi Desert of northern China, Kazakhstan, Russia, Finland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Switzerland, and finished in Germany.
The unprecedented expedition provided AIWAYS with a chance to validate and fine-tune key aspects of the U5. It was a demanding evaluation of the car’s ability to deliver the real-world performance, reliability, and range expected by today’s consumers. With a total travel distance of more than 15,000 kilometers, it was the U5’s final hurdle before production began.
Winter Wang, Chief Technical Officer, AIWAYS, explained: “Although it was tough and incredibly demanding of the vehicle and team, the drive to Frankfurt represented just a fraction of the 3.5 million kilometers that the U5 has completed in our testing program. Across laboratory, track, and public roads, each stage has pushed the car further and allowed us to correct issues and refine the U5 prior to production. The Guinness World Record-setting drive provided some valuable insight into battery thermal performance, as well as the electrical system and vehicle software. We are excited to offer the European market a proven and accomplished vehicle, ready for many more adventures.”
The automotive industry is entering the most significant phase of disruption since it began over one hundred years ago. Agile new vehicle manufacturers are challenging conventions and kickstarting a technological revolution. No company symbolizes this shift more than AIWAYS, a Shanghai-based personal mobility provider, which has established itself on the world stage in less than three years.
Started in 2017, AIWAYS is devoted to developing truly innovative cars that bring users freedom and make them fall in love with driving again. The AIWAYS team, led by President Mr. Fu Qiang (Samuel Fu) and CEO Mr. Gu Feng (Gary Gu), has already achieved what many established automotive brands have taken decades to accomplish. Partnering with the world’s most successful suppliers and technology companies, they have grounded AIWAYS in innovation and quality. Understanding lessons learned by vehicle manufacturers across the world and without the burden of legacy investment, the duo have been able to swiftly realize their vision.
AIWAYS is now bringing affordable, connected EV family transportation to Europe, making the automotive future more accessible. It will be the first Chinese startup to sell a purely electric SUV¬¬¬ in the European market. With impressive performance, build quality and sleek styling, the U5 is set to change perceptions about vehicles designed and manufactured in China.
AIWAYS defines its brand with the phrase ‘Love your drive’, a simple reminder to enjoy the journey and not just the destination. It seeks to combine an engaging and enjoyable driving experience with vehicles that are perfectly suited to modern lifestyles.
AIWAYS media contacts:
Emma Hai, AIWAYS Overseas Brand & PR Director
Emma Hopgood, PFPR Communications
+44 (0)7809 215894