Chinese EV Startup Kaiyun Motors Breaks into U.S. and European Markets

Ivana V. Image
ByIvana V.
July 25,2019
Kaiyun Motors, a producer of mini electric vehicles from China, has been selling its tiny electric pickups in the U.S. and Europe since May 2019, cracking two of the world’s toughest markets as car sales decline in China.

Even though Kaiyun Motors’ sales in these two competitive markets have been modest so far with less than a hundred vehicles sold since May, the company founder Wang Chao is optimistic about attracting new customers in the following months.

The Chinese manufacturer has been around since 2014 and produces a small pickup truck called model called Pickman. The miniature electric vehicles, which can develop a maximum speed of 30 miles per hour, have found its buyers mostly in California, France, Spain, and Sweden. In the U.S., Kaiyun Pickman sold 40 units, and another 30 were shipped to Europe.

Despite slow sales in the first few months of breaking into the U.S. market, Kaiyun Motors aims to sell between 3,000 and 4,000 vehicles in the country by the end of next year. When it comes to European sales forecasts, the carmaker refrained from making any predictions.

The Pickman model can be purchased in the U.S. for the affordable price of $7,999, which includes a 25% import tax. The company decided to offer the same price to its European customers even though it pays zero tax to export to Europe. However, Kaiyun Motors needs to make some adjustments to the tiny pickup before it is approved for driving on public roads in the EU.

“Mini-electric vehicles are more than enough to meet consumers’ daily needs,” Wang Chao told Bloomberg in an interview back in January, when he announced the firm got approved for selling in the states.

American consumers, accustomed to large gasoline-powered pickups like the Ford F-250 which can haul more than 2,200 lbs at a 100-miles-per-hour speed, might disagree with this statement. On the other hand, Pickman comes with a much more affordable price tag than the Ford F-250 (with a price tag of $33,000). Moreover, it can manage trips around large construction sites, farms, and plants.

Low-speed electric vehicles, powered by cheaper lead-acid batteries than its normal-sized counterparts, are prevalent in China. In 2017, the Chinese bought nearly 1.8 million such cars, which is equal to double the sales of regular electric vehicles like Tesla during the same period. Kaiyun Motors has sold around 4,900 models of Pickman in China this year.

About the author

Ivana is a staff writer at SmallBizGenius. Her interests during office hours include writing about small businesses, start-ups, and retail. When the weekend comes, you can find her hiking in nature, hanging off of a cliff or dancing salsa.

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