Last year I saw a nice looking electric mini truck on a Chinese shopping site and decided I had to get it. I thought I would never lose my farm. Then I embarked on the strangest car purchase of my life.
small electric car in china
I have watched the development of China’s electric vehicle industry for many years. We’re not talking about Tesla imitators or other mainstream Chinese EVs. I’m talking about the quirky, weird, funny little mini EV industry that has been completely dominated by China.
Not only do I write a fun, sarcastic column every weekend tracking down these dumbest mini EVs, but every now and then I buy something I can’t resist or hide from myself so I can put my skin into the game. is inserted. wife.
First of all, this cute little thing turned into an electric truck that broke the internet. electric Readers scrolled to read about the experience. Millions of people watch videos. I’m not quite sure what it is. Maybe the size of a mini truck (it’s 5:8 scale, or 11 feet long, compared to an 18 foot Rivian). not. But everyone seems to love the little electric trucks, even my neighbors!
I have since gifted the truck to my parents for use on their ranch in Florida. There they perform all sorts of roles, from garbage collection to landscaping duties. Stop by on the right day and you’ll see a father with his grandchildren behind the hayride style. A speed of 25 mph (40 km/h) is no problem for the type of off-road his utility my parents experienced.
How is the famous electric mini truck doing now?
I wish I could tell you how many miles I’ve ridden the truck since then, but I don’t really have an odometer. Because the truck surprised us all by holding up incredibly well!
Sure, it’s only less than a year old, but if the comments section is any indication, most people didn’t expect the track to last this long. But not only has it lasted, it’s working better than ever.
The rear hydraulic dump bed, which has proven to be very useful for spreading mulch and topsoil, seems to get better over time.
The hydraulic ram damping is great and I use it all the time. But I think the size of the hydraulic ram is too big.
It has plenty of lifting power, but often gets stuck on the way down if it doesn’t have enough weight to keep the bed down.
To lower the ram again, the bed has to be pulled slightly. That was when there wasn’t enough mass to force the hydraulic fluid back out of the piston relying on gravity alone.
I don’t know yet what the lift capacity is, but I had about 500-700 lbs of dirt in the bed and lifted it as easily as one 40 lb bag of topsoil. It shows you have more lift capacity than you can fit in your bed.
Electric mini truck charging
I bought the largest 6 kWh battery the factory offered, and I don’t even know the exact range. Fun fact: The $2,000 truck sticker price skyrocketed after adding $1,000 more for the largest battery, he added $2,000 for shipping, plus state fees (more on that here).
I usually recharge the truck every few weeks. Theoretically, it has a range of about 50 miles (80 km) or more.
But since this truck is used entirely off-road on site, it doesn’t go very far and range isn’t an issue.
My dad died once when his battery got too low, but he took a Jackery 1500 portable generator to walk there. He charged for a few minutes and was able to drive home.
We also found that the mini truck can be solar charged with the same portable power station and a set of four solar panels that can be used as solar generators.
This is a great feature as many electric car chargers can be too powerful for small portable power stations. The Jackery 1500 can actually easily handle a 1 kW car charger (but not for very long). But even a small power plant could handle the roughly 500-600W charger that came with my truck.
By running the solar panel at the same time as the truck’s charger, the solar generator can be replenished almost as fast as it releases energy to the truck. That way you basically have the sun all day long.
The truck system works well too. The LED lighting is all working as it did the day it arrived, except my father accidentally broke the mount for one of his spot lights. When he drove under the tree he always swore he would clear it, but this time the branches grew a little lower.
The air conditioner works well, but it’s noisy so I don’t use it very often. The electric windows open to increase airflow inside the car, and the sunroof further cools the ram air into the cab. But during Florida’s hot and humid summers, that air conditioning is a nice feature to have. I left the A/C on once while parked for about 30 minutes just to see if the uptime was okay. When I got back, the entire windshield was covered with thick condensation. Well, it’s going to be pretty cold, isn’t it?
The suspension is still too rough, but that’s likely due to oversized components. The springs are like 400-pound coils, too stiff for such a small truck. I bought some 125 lb springs to swap.
We also picked up some larger tires for trucks in hopes of better off-road performance. Stock tires are designed for the street. It does well with sandy soil and tall grass around the property, but it’s not ideal. New tires should be a big improvement.
Is it street legal?
One of the most common questions I get from people is if this mini truck is actually street legal. Unfortunately the answer is no. A lot of people think I can slap an orange triangle on my back and drive into the sunset. That’s certainly nice, but again no. it doesn’t work like that.
The closest matching vehicle category is low speed vehicles (LSV). This is a federally regulated motor vehicle class for these types of slow, often small vehicles at 25 mph (40 km/h).
However, it is a common misconception that a vehicle must have a 25 mph speed limit and seat belts to be a legal LSV.I have many moreover. All safety equipment must be sourced from a DOT certified factory. The factory that assembles the vehicle must be registered with NHTSA. I have the necessary equipment such as a backup camera (my truck has it), a noise maker for pedestrian warnings (my truck doesn’t) and a few other components. Again, they must all be sourced from a DOT certified factory. Wearing seat belts with DOT labels sewn on is not enough.
So we would like to use the truck on-road, but it is not really possible. Currently, almost zero imported cars from China meet the legal requirements for LSV, and in fact there are many that claim otherwise. I think there’s a real market for these small, inexpensive electric vehicles for neighborhood and city use, so I hope that changes soon. It is still very effective for off-road use.
What’s next on the upgrade list?
I love this little electric truck, but it could always be improved.
I have already mentioned the new tires and springs that will be installed soon. But there are also plans for his 50W solar panels for the roof. It’s the perfect size for the top of the cab and I don’t think it sticks out like a weird hat. You can pair it with a DC boost charge controller to directly charge your battery. The truck isn’t that fast, so it’s fairly efficient and can do about 40-50 Wh per mile. So 1 hour in the sun gave me about 1 mile of charge. If your onsite usage is less than 5 miles per day he basically doesn’t need to hook up the truck to the charger.
Also, you have to put the bedliner in the truck. Every time I fill up my bed and think of thin paint, I feel sick. I’m considering using a roll-on truck bed that I can apply myself. Do you have any color suggestions?
In fact, if you have any other good ideas for upgrades I should explore, drop me a line in the comments section below. . I already want it
So do you want one too?
Every week I’m inundated with emails from people wanting to get their hands on these electric mini trucks. they are great Be aware, however, that bringing one of these to the US is no easy task.
It’s not legal for street use, so it had to be imported only for off-road use. It’s legal, but it’s still cumbersome and has its pitfalls. I’ve heard stories of people trying to import these Chinese trucks and being stopped by Customs and Border Patrol.
Even without that problem, you’ll still incur a lot of nickel and dime charges along the way.
There are companies that import these things for you, but they make it clear that they don’t provide any guarantees and just handle the logistics. very healthy markup.
Several of my readers have shared their own stories with me of being bitten by Alibaba and importing electric mini jeeps and other bizarre four-wheeled EVs. I know it’s not for humans.
What’s next for electric mini trucks?
My plan for now is simply to stick with the electric mini truck and push hard on my daily chores to see what I can do.
As with any machine, I’m sure there will be problems eventually. In that case, the repair will require a little ingenuity and finesse. This is the downside of buying a vehicle without a local dealer to provide support. But it’s also how people used to live. I used to fix broken things myself. So I’m not too worried about that. I happen to have a mechanical engineering degree and many years of experience as a battery engineer.
If you have any questions about the track that I didn’t answer, feel free to drop them in the comments below! electriccomment section closes like a steel trap after 48 hours.
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