AIWAYS plans 8,000-mile SUV prototype drive

Chinese start-up to mark U5 model's European launch with ultra-long-distance run

Aiways U5

Chinese electric-car maker AIWAYS is planning to drive a prototype of its U5 SUV model 8,843 miles in order to mark the car's launch in the European market.

The drive will commence in the western Chinese city of Xian on 17 July and conclude in September. The exact final destination has not been revealed, but is likely to be somewhere in mainland Europe.

AIWAYS says this forms part of the U5's testing and development programme.

According to a statement from the company: "The engineering team will explore how simple and easy it is to live with the U5, driving and recharging as they pass through numerous countries where temperatures, road conditions and available charging infrastructures differ considerably."

The U5 was one of two models from AIWAYS displayed at the Geneva Motor Show in March: the other was a methanol-electric supercar co-developed with engineer Roland Gumpert, the man behind the Gumpert Apollo.

The supercar is dubbed the 'Nathalie' and uses methanol to generate electricity, in similar fashion to a hydrogen fuel-cell car like the Toyota Mirai. It'll have four separate electric motors and a pair of twin-speed gearboxes.

AIWAYS is claiming a power output of nearly 800bhp for the car, giving a 0-60mph time of under 2.5 seconds a top speed of more than 190mph. It should also be capable of travelling nearly 750 miles between refuelling.

Production of the Nathalie will be limited to 500 units, and although no exact price has been confirmed, it definitely won't be cheap.

The U5, meanwhile, is being pitched as a more affordable alternative to the Audi e-tron, Mercedes EQC and Tesla Model X. It boasts a claimed range of around 285 miles and a power output of 185bhp.

AIWAYS U5

It'll also come with an 'artificially intelligent' battery back, which AIWAYS says will be capable of extending the car's range by over 60 miles.

AIWAYS is emphasising the U5's safety credentials; it achieved a five-star rating in Chinese crash tests and is intended to be one of the safest mid-size SUVs on the European market when it goes on sale.

It also comes with modern active safety systems such as traffic-jam assist, automatic parking, driver fatigue monitoring and lane-keeping assistance. Inside, there'll be a 'tri-fold' digital instrument housing and 12.3-inch infotainment screen.

Although the U5 will go on sale in left-hand-drive European markets in April 2020, there are currently no plans to produce a right-hand-drive version for the UK.