Aiways has embarked on 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 this week from Xi’an in China, and are now being driven 14,231km (8,843 miles) to Frankfurt, Germany. The vehicles, which are nearing the end of a comprehensive test and development program, are scheduled to complete their journey in September.
The team chose to begin here because it marks the start of the Silk Road and has historical significance as a hub for trading, cultural exchange and communication between China and Europe.
Alexander Klose, executive VP overseas operation at Aiways, commented, “This unprecedented drive presents a unique chance to validate and fine-tune key aspects of the U5, from powertrain characteristics to the durability of thousands of components. By traversing thousands of kilometers in some truly challenging conditions we will demonstrate how simple and easy EV ownership can be for today’s car buyers.”
Aiways chief technical officer, Winter Wang, added, “To date, the development process has enabled us to create a user-friendly SUV with great depth of ability, and this long-distance engineering drive on some very challenging road conditions will ensure the car offers the real-world electric performance, reliability and range demanded by Chinese and European consumers.”
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. 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 IAA (Frankfurt International Motor Show) opens its doors to the public.
Aiways will push the U5 to its limits and will explore what it’s like to live with the U5, driving and recharging as they pass through numerous countries where temperatures, road conditions and available charging infrastructure differs considerably.
The drive marks a significant stage of the development cycle for the 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 is one of the key areas that 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 road trip by new strategic partner Allianz Partners, who will be providing road side assistance should it be needed over the journey.
“Allianz Partners is proud to support Aiways on this road trip, and provide ‘high-tech, high-touch’ assistance services and mobility solutions to Aiways customers in future. We will work together to make the EV drivers’ experience more secure and more convenient, anytime and anywhere,” said Sylvie Ouziel, CEO assistance and APAC at Allianz Partners.