Chinese Automaker Kandi Is Launching Two EVs In The U.S. Later This Year

One starts at $12,999 while the other is priced at $22,499 after federal tax credits

Chinese automakers have yet to really gain a foothold in the U.S. market, but Kandi hopes to break into the EV market here. [Photos: Kandi America]

Meet the cheapest new electric car in the United States. No, it’s not the Mitsubishi i-MiEV or the Smart ForTwo — those are both gone. Instead, the hands-down cheapest EVs slated to go on sale later this year, per the company’s announcement Monday, are from a Chinese automaker. The photo above shows the Kandi K23. They’re also bringing an electric microcar, counterintuitively named the K27 (despite it being smaller than the K23).

Both are set to launch in Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas, near where Kandi America is headquartered. From a late 2020 launch, the company hopes to expand its presence nationwide.

The Kandi K27 is significantly cheaper than its rivals, and it claims 100 miles of range on a charge.

The Kandi K27: America’s cheapest new EV

On the entry-level side, the Kandi K27 is a tiny hatchback with an equally small 17.69 kWh battery pack. That’s virtually the same as the now-defunct Smart ForTwo, but Kandi claims up to 100 miles on a charge for this four-door city car. Performance figures aren’t available at the moment, but its top speed is pegged at 63 mph, more or less what you’d expect for a car of this nature. Pricing starts at $20,499, though that does fall to $12,999 after the available $7,500 federal tax credits. Provided it eventually goes on sale in your state and you’re eligible for a generous state incentive, you could very well get this car for under $10,000.

Mind you, there’s really not much going on in the way of luxury or features for that sort of money. It’s also not immediately clear how these vehicles fared in crash testing, as the company made no mention of safety in its announcement. For their part, the company did say the K27 has “ample interior space that can comfortable accommodate up to four passengers.” The car has what looks like a fairly standard set of controls, as well as a reasonable (though not enormous) infotainment display perched atop the center stack.

The Kandi K23 is a bit larger, with substantially more range

Even at first glance, the K23 is a larger, more substantial and more capable car than its smaller sibling. Here, the $22,499 price tag (again, after federal incentives) nets you a 41.4 kWh ternary lithium battery pack. Performance figures aren’t available for this car either, but it does boast 180 miles of range on a single charge, up from 100 in the K27. The video below shows the K23 charging on a J1772 Level 2 A/C charger, though it appears the car might have a DC fast charging port.

Kandi did not mention charging times for either car.

Inside, the Kandi K23 does pack a much larger infotainment screen. It also has a nicer looking interior overall, complete with a fully digital instrument cluster and rotary drive selector.

While Kandi naturally is not aiming this car at heavyweights like the Tesla Model 3, it does compete against the base Nissan Leaf at that price point. Other contenders in the market include the Hyundai Ioniq Electric, as well as the Hyundai Kona Electric and the Chevrolet Bolt. Volkswagen’s also entering the market with its ID. 4 in the coming months, so Kandi will compete in a field that’s getting more crowded year after year.

Despite its lack of name recognition, Kandi is confident its value-minded message will appeal to buyers. Johnny Tai, Kandi America CEO, said in Monday’s statement, “Kandi’s mission is to make electric cars accessible to all. With these first two models, we are starting an Auto EVolution (sic) that will enable anyone, regardless of their financial status, to afford a reliable, high-tech EV.”

Both cars will open up reservations on August 18 for a refundable $100 deposit.