Less is more with this ‘street-legal’ tiny Chinese electric SUV

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I’m not sure if you could really call it a legit SUV, but these fun-looking little Chinese electric vehicles might just be an interesting alternative to the car bloat clogging the streets of cities around the world.

Oh, and they make an excellent entry for this week’s Awesomely Weird Alibaba Electric Vehicle of the Week.

I stumbled across these $2,600 gems while perusing Alibaba, and one of the first things to catch my eye was the “street-legal” moniker in the title.

Based on several years spent elbow-deep in the Chinese electric micro-car industry, I can tell you these probably aren’t street-legal in much of the world, and may not even be street-legal in China. But there are still many localities (both in the US and worldwide) that make their own exceptions for pint-sized EVs like these. So if you are lucky enough to live in an area that has friendlier golf cart and NEV laws, or simply play your cards right on a busy day at the DMV, you might just be able to slip one of these out onto the streets.

Of course, don’t expect that advertised $2,600 price to hold up for very long. Once you add the battery, freight, taxes, customs brokers, port fees, and other importing expenses, you’ll probably be looking at several times that figure. But hey, tiny electric SUVs aren’t exactly growing on trees around here, either.

At under 11 feet long, this sucker would be easier to park than an old VW Beetle and a heck of a lot more unique, too!

It’s got a fairly spartan four-seater interior but also a few nice features, such as fold-down rear seats for more cargo space.

The 40 km/h (25 mph) top speed means it will be limited to golf cart-style local errand running, but you probably won’t want to be driving this on much faster streets than that anyway. Let’s just say it’s not likely to have the same level of crash protection as, well, just about anything.

But safety isn’t your only problem. There’s also the issue of even getting one here from China. I found out the hard way that importing tiny Chinese electric vehicles is not easy, and I’m not sure the factory has a good plan for even moving these around locally. They seem to think five can fit in the back of a tractor-trailer, though if I had the choice then I’d probably like to choose the first vehicle out of the trailer after that packing job.

I’m not saying that everyone in the US could instantly trade in their oversized, overweight Rivian for one of these. But I am saying that if we had options like these, then perhaps fewer people would think they need a 7,000 lb vehicle to go buy a jug of milk.

As golf carts, NEVs, and other micro-cars slowly become more popular in the US, here’s to hoping we can finally see more interesting options like these in our cities!

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