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Will CHJ Automotive's electric car eliminate 'range anxiety'?

By Zhang Dandan | China Daily | Updated: 2018-10-22 13:35
Journalists look at a Leading Ideal One model produced by CHJ Automotive at a news conference in Beijing. [Photo by Zhang Dandan/China Daily]

Electric vehicle startup CHJ Automotive launched an extended-range electric vehicle - Leading Ideal One - on Thursday in Beijing. The car, CHJ says, should help eliminate range anxiety, a key hurdle to widespread sales of battery electric vehicles.

"Equipped with (a) range extender, Leading Ideal One can travel 700 kilometers and even 1,000 km on one charge and one fuel filling," said Li Xiang, founder and CEO of Beijing CHJ Automotive Technology Co at the launch event.

The 700 km range consists of 180 km driven by electricity and 520 km powered by the range extender. The 1,000 km range can only be reached when driving in cities, according to the automaker.

Differing from the battery electric vehicle, the extended-range electric vehicle equips not only a battery pack but also a ranger extender that is powered by fuel.

"The range extender is used to generate power, not to drive the car; that differs the extended-range electric vehicle from plug-in hybrid electric vehicles," said Zhang Xiao, who is in charge of product management at CHJ Automotive, at a Friday news conference in Beijing.

The driver can start the range extender at will. If recharging the battery isn't convenient, and the driver prefers to keep a high battery level, the range extender can be started at any time, Zhang added.

However, that's a concern for Wu Deping, chairman and chief technology officer at Suzhou DSM Green Power Ltd.

The range extender of Leading Ideal One is powerful enough to drive a car for a long time, Wu told China Daily at the World Intelligent Connected Vehicles Conference, on Friday in Beijing. And since charging an electric car is not convenient - which will continue to be a problem for years - "the drivers will tend to travel with the range extender, (which) goes against the original intention of extended-range electric vehicle - the range extender working no more than 5 percent of the whole range."

To foster the health development of extended-range electric vehicle, an official definition and criterion is badly needed, Wu said.

The automaker said that its new model offers advanced driving safety and intelligent connectivity.

"Leading Ideal One is equipped with a level-2 advanced driver assistance system, allowing the drivers to drive more safely and conveniently," said Li, the company's CEO and founder.

The driver assistance system offers a raft of functions, including automatic cruise control, automatic parking, autonomous emergency braking and lane departure warning, according to the carmaker.

"Following the computer and mobile phone, the automobile is bound to be the third internet terminal," said Fan Haoyu, vice-president of intelligent system at CHJ Automotive. "Leading Ideal One is designed as an internetwork equipment."

The new model adopts two-chip and dual-system architecture, forging a stable and advanced vehicle-mounted intelligent system.

To achieve easy interaction among the driver, passengers and car, Leading Ideal One is equipped with four high-definition screens - the instrument screen, console screen, entertainment screen for the front passenger seat and a vehicle controlling screen, according to Fan.

The four screens are isolated and connected, providing the drivers and passengers with diverse services, he added.

Applying high-sensitivity microphones, the new model allows voice interaction within the car, Fan noted. "The driver and passengers are free to give orders at any corner in the car, including choosing songs, setting air-conditioning and navigating," Fan said.

At 5,020 mm in length, 1,960 mm in width, 1,760 mm in height and 2,935 mm of wheel base, Leading Ideal One is a medium and large-sized SUV with a seven-seat version and a six-seat version.

Priced at less than 400,000 yuan ($57,695), the model can be ordered by next April and is scheduled for delivery by the fourth quarter of 2019, according to the automaker.

Li said that the company will only supply two models in the next 10 years - the Leading Ideal One and another five-seat family car.

The automaker also has plans to develop a self-driving taxi. But no specifics about that vehicle have been released.

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