SHANGHAI - Chinese startup Aiways will not use a dealership network to sell cars in Europe and the United States. Instead the automaker will market its U5 midsize full-electric SUV through leasing contracts it will manage itself.
Aiways plans to launch the U5 in Europe early next year, followed by the United States at the end of 2020.
"We think we could give customers a very competitive monthly lease rate, lower than the cost of a similar car with an internal combustion engine," said Alexander Klose, Aiways' head of overseas business operations.
In Europe, Aiways hopes to keep the U5 monthly lease rate below 400 euros and offer contracts for 24, 36 and 48 months. The size of the initial down payment has not been decided yet. U.S. leasing prices have not been finalized.
In China, Aiways will sell the U5 through dealerships when the SUV goes on sale in its home market in September because financial services, including leasing, are not yet common.
The U5's price in China will be equivalent to about 35,000 euros before incentives, Klose said.
The U5 is in pre-production at Aiway's factory in Shangrao City in China's southeastern Jiangxi province.
The company plans to build around 2,000 units by the end of the year and just under 50,000 in 2020.
The U5 is built on a modular platform using a blend of aluminum and high-strength steel, with the battery pack sandwiched in the floor.
The standard model has a 65 kilowatt-hour battery pack that is homologated for a 503-km range under Europe's old NEDC type approval process. The SUV is now undergoing homologation under the new WLTP regime.
In Europe Aiways is targeting customers who will be able to recharge the U5 at night at their home. "Given our 500-km range, we think European customers will not need to recharge the vehicle during their normal daily use," Klose told Automotive News Europe on the sidelines of the Shanghai auto show.
Aiways plans to offer a smaller battery pack for the European market, he said.
Klose said Aiways is not targeting specific markets in Europe.
In Shanghai, Aiways unveiled the U7 concept, which hints to a longer model, destined mainly for the Chinese and U.S. market.
Aiways plans to launch a second model before the U7, possibly called the U4. It will be shorter than the 4680mm U5 and so more suited to European buyers, Klose said.