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Cheap Chinese EVs are Coming, But Are They Safe?

If you’re willing to take a chance on a newcomer, you might just find yourself a killer deal.

We’ve heard for years that the baseline price for an electric vehicle will slowly diminish as the technology continues to scale. And while we’ve seen some evidence of that, there are still many more pricey options than affordable ones at this point.

But if you’re willing to take a chance on a newcomer, you might just find yourself a killer deal with a new line from Chinese EV maker, Kandi. You will also have to get over the name.

Kandi has unveiled the two models it is bringing to market in America, the K27 and K23, and they’re poised to set a new benchmark for affordability. The K27, the smaller of the two, would actually cost between $10,000 and $13,000 after federal tax credits.

But there’s a tradeoff, as usual. The K27 is billed as more of an errand car for city dwellers. It goes 100 miles on a charge and tops out at 63 miles per hour. And Kandi even admits that its sluggish powertrain takes a bit to hit that 63. But for the right driver, this may not be a dealbreaker.

What could be, however, are the nebulous details Kandi has to offer on safety and reliability. CNN recently raised some questions about the company’s claims that it's “certified by NHTSA.” In reality, the NHTSA does not certify companies or cars, says CNN, rather, it’s the manufacturers themselves who must certify that their products comply. NHTSA doesn’t actually test them before they hit the market.

Kandi does make similar models in China that it says have passed crash tests there, but CNN said the company declined to share documents related to its crash tests despite repeated requests. CNN also said they were unable to even verify ANY record of crash tests in China.

But by the time these two EVs hit the American market -- likely early next year -- you may decide the price tag is worth some unanswered questions. Or you might decide the world is crazy enough already.

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