Chinese firm Aiways aims to start selling cars in the UK and other right-hand- drive markets in 2023.
Founded in 2017 by Fu Qiang (a former sales chief at Volvo) and Gary Gu, it now has a factory in Shanghai with an annual capacity of 300,000 units, plus its own research and development centre and battery factory. Its European headquarters are in Munich, Germany.
“We’re seeing significant interest from the UK, as well as right-hand-drive markets in south-east Asia, including Japan,” said Alex Klose, Aiways’ overseas CEO and strategy vice-president. “That has surprised us – in a good way, of course – so we’re trying to react as quickly as we can.
“The plan now is to be in the UK sooner rather than later. I made a pledge to do that within 12 months. That might be too tight, but we’re already working on it, and that’s what I would call our ambitious goal.”
If the plan comes to fruition, Aiways will arrive in the UK with the U5, an electric SUV it has sold since 2018. It’s 4700mm long with a wheelbase of 2800mm and has a 63kWh battery pack for a range of around 250 miles, making it a rival to the Skoda Enyaq iV.
Klose expects to work with an established importer if his plans come together, but he declined to go into details.
He said: “There’s already some interest that looks promising, but we also want to look at how we can create or adapt a model that works for the UK. They need to decide how they would want to work with us and us with them.
“If that strategy doesn’t come off, we could look to a completely different approach. “The issue with the UK importers is that they are already quite consolidated, so if something new pops up, we might consider it.”
The U5 is already on sale in 14 European nations, including Germany, where it is retailed in Euronics electronics shops.
Few dynamic modifications are made (“If a car works in China, it works everywhere,” reasons Klose), although there are revisions made to various in-car systems, including, for instance, the addition of a DAB radio.
Prices start at €38,275 (£33,500) and “around 3000” sales have been made to date.