The Miles EV: Chinese origins. (Miles photo)
The electric car announcements are coming thick and fast. Every time I pick up the phone it's another EV CEO wanting an interview. Oh, the burdens I bear. The scene is starting to look like 1910, when every garage held a new horseless carriage. There were hundreds of startups that year -- electric, gasoline and steam -- and we're back there again (minus the steam).
So here's the skinny on the latest one. The Miles EV is an interesting-looking highway speed all-electric sedan that is supposed to cost $45,000. A few will trickle out in 2010, apparently. Now this part is ridiculously optimistic: Miles wants to sell 20,000 by 2011. Maybe if it was $20,000, and Miles was a company with some kind of automotive track record (the company makes small low-speed electric trucks and vans).
But don't count Miles out. It's co-chairman, Steven Heller, headed mergers and acquisitions at Goldman Sachs. He could probably sell igloos to Eskimos.
There's a strange evolution here. According to Autobloggreen, in 2007 the company announced something called the Javlon XS500 -- sounds like a rocket ship, doesn't it? That was supposed to sell for $30,000, but some price inflation seems to have come along with the name change.
John O'Dell at Edmunds had some useful details. The Miles EV, he says, is based on the Chinese Hafei Auto Group's Saibao EV and will be built in China, using 30% non-Chinese components (including parts of the electric drive). Since Chinese auto quality is sometimes questionable, Miles says it has been extensively reengineered to meet U.S. expectations. It's supposed to have a range of 100 miles, and a top speed of 80 mph with lithium-iron-phosphate batteries.
The new car will be unveiled June 3, at which time a new strategic partner is supposed to be announced and test drives offered at the company's Santa Monica, California base. Would this be the first Chinese EV on the U.S. market? Not exactly. The Wheego Whip -- a neighborhood electric vehicle from the Atlanta-based company -- is based on a Chinese car, the Noble.
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