Electric SUV prototypes from China's Aiways attempt epic Xian-Frankfurt drive

By CARSIFU | 18 July 2019

XIAN: Aiways, the Shanghai-based personal mobility provider, has started what is believed to be the longest point-to-point drive of a prototype electric vehicle ever attempted.

A pair of prototype Aiways U5 battery-electric SUVs departed on July 17 from Xian in China, and are now being driven 14,231km to Frankfurt. The vehicles, which are nearing the end of a comprehensive test and development programme, are scheduled to complete their epic journey in September – just in time for the Frankfurt motor show.

The audacious EV engineering drive will involve two U5 prototype vehicles – and a team of engineers – travelling first through the Gobi Desert of northern China. Following routes used for centuries by Silk Road traders, the convoy will arrive in Kazakhstan at the end of July.

The convoy will then enter Russia, passing through Moscow and St Petersburg before entering Europe through Finland. The northernmost leg of the drive takes the prototypes above the Gulf of Bothnia, with scheduled stops in Sweden, Norway and Denmark, before entering Germany.

AIWAYS U5 engineering drive starts (4)

Once in western Europe, the cars will also visit Amsterdam, Paris and Zurich, before a final drive over the Alps and back into Germany. The journey will end in front of the Frankfurt exhibition halls during the first week of September, shortly before the motor show opens its doors to the public.

The drive marks a significant stage of the development cycle for the new Aiways U5, giving engineers the chance to subject the car to a demanding, long-distance examination. Testing two vehicles on some of the world’s most demanding urban and rural roads – over a combined distance of more than 28,000km – will help Aiways evaluate quality and reliability, and determine optimal chassis settings.

The fully-electric "E-Drive" powertrain – the most compact electric powertrain of any zero-emission vehicle – is one of the key areas which Aiways engineers will focus on. The drive will test the battery pack and motor in challenging, evolving conditions, and will enable the development team to monitor the powertrain, as well as its electrical control and heat management systems, in real-time. The data captured from the drive will allow engineers to validate energy consumption in varying conditions, charging and fast-charging capabilities, and the vehicle’s low state-of-charge performance.

In addition, the U5 prototype’s multiple electrical systems will come under intense scrutiny, to ensure that the final production vehicle’s numerous safety, connectivity, powertrain and convenience features operate at their best. The U5’s braking, suspension and steering characteristics will also be monitored and honed, with the drive taking the convoy through mountain regions and some of the hardest road conditions that owners might expect to encounter.

Aiways will be joined on the epic road trip by new strategic partner Allianz Partners, who will be providing road side assistance should it be needed over the 14,231km journey.

The U5 all-electric SUV is a statement of intent for the Aiways brand as it aims to bring affordable, connected and local zero-emissions family transport to the European market by April 2020.