Electric vehicles have grown in popularity thanks in part to companies like Tesla, Nissan and Chevrolet.
But EV’s can be quite pricey, something Kaiyun Motors from China is steering clear of by with its simpler and more affordable vehicle. CGTN’s Mark Niu reports.
In Rancho Cucamonga, just outside Los Angeles, Alexander Drachev shows off the storage facility where he pulls up the garage door to reveal a shiny blue truck inside.
“This is our Pickman coming directly from China, ” Drachev, who is the Head of International Business Development and Kaiyun Motors.
China’s Kaiyun Motors owns Las Vegas-registered Kylectric Auto, which is now selling Pickman EV pickup trucks in the United States.
As I hop in to take it for a spin, Drachev tells said the Pickman can travel 110 kilometers on a single charge and starts at a base price of just $5,500.
“The existing competition is coming from golf carts. But the golf cart is actually more expensive and they don’t have this kind of payload capacity,” said Drachev. “Right now, we are driving the three kilowatt option, which is about 4.5 horsepower. It has enough torque to carry one ton and tow about three tons.”
By pulling a few release handles, all three sides of the back come right down, revealing a 1.5 by 1.2 meter space. That’s enough room for a side-by-side fridge or flatscreen TV. And in the front, the “frunk” has three liters of space, which can easily fit a large backpack along with other items.
With a top speed of 40 kph, or about 25 mph, the Pickman is for off-road purposes only right now. It’s still in the process of getting the certification to be driven on ordinary streets.
So far, U.S. customers are primarily using the Pickman at construction sites and farms.
“A lot of these farmers, how much they spend every year on gasoline and diesel is just outrageous,” said Joe Chu, Dir. of Operations, Kaiyun Motors. “And plus all the tariffs on China’s side are actually hurting their bottom line. It’s really just a better proposition.”
Selling an electric vehicle is difficult, selling a Chinese electric vehicle is doubly difficult,” said Michael Coates, Editor of the Clean Fleet Report. “The good news is there aren’t a lot of examples to play against, so they have a chance to establish themselves as a positive image.”
Coates consulted for the original electrical vehicle that’s become the Polaris Gem, which costs several thousand dollars more than the Pickman.
“It looks like they’ve got something that could really do the job,” said Coates. “They need to get a lot of the vehicles in customer hands in the U.S. and see how they are used here to kind of fine tune it for the market.”
In China, Kaiyun Motors just introduced a four-seater EV truck, which they’ll also seek to bring to the U.S. and Europe in the near future.
“We are going to have stepping stones all the way up to on-road, full road pickup versions as well,” said Chu. “We are actually going to think of bringing manufacturing here to the U.S. and to Mexico. So that’s really going to combat the tariff issue, import tax issues and will also bring down the cost as well.”
I got a chance see the team put the Pickman to the test as it peeled out, took sharp turns, and even did donuts.
While the Pickman boasts some impressive handling capabilities for such a low-priced vehicle, the true test will be how it performs with U.S. customers and how the company utilizes feedback to keep improving the driving experience.