The Chinese are eager to become worldwide leaders in new vehicle technology with much of the focus being directed towards electric cars.  Recently, a Chinese company called New Power developed what they claim is the first production ready, electric car with a range similar to a conventional gasoline car.

Most electric cars in the works right now have a range between 50 and 150 miles.  New Power claims they have achieved a 250 mile range in the 4 seater car called the Zhong Tai.  They plan to bring it to the UK in the next couple of years.  The vehicle is powered by a lithium-ion battery pack that can be recharged in as little as 2 hours and can reach a top speed of 75 mph.

New Power plans to market the car in the UK with a price point between $26,000 and $33,000.  According to the company, the car would be both practical and affordable for everyone.

With prototypes in the works, the Sunday Times got a chance to drive this breakthrough vehicle.  The vehicle is based on a current production model the 2006 Daihatsu Terios compact SUV.  According to the reviewer, there was nothing that distinguished this car from the gasoline version on the exterior aside from the charging socket and lack of an exhaust.

The EV has been in the works for 6 years now and the company believes that they are nearing production ready.  Here's how there drive went.

With the intent of pushing the car to see if the claimed 250 mile range was indeed true, the Time's driver set out on his journey.  Pushing the vehicle hard, he believes that the vehicle reaches the claimed 0-60 mph time of 12 seconds or less.  When accelerating quickly from 18 to 54 mph, everything felt fine until the alarms inside the car went off and the engine shut down.  A simple restart was needed and they were on their way.  While trying to restart the car, someone had mistakenly touched the battery and received a jolt, but the company took care of that problem and the drive resumed.

Reaching the 250 mile ceiling would not be possible during the brief test drive, but the reviewer kept a keen eye on the charge meter.  Assuming the meter was accurate, he started with about 75% percent charge, drove for 120 miles, and was left with 44% charge making it reasonable to assume the vehicle could have traveled 250 miles on a full charge.

The 250 mile claim applies only to stop and go driving.  At highway speeds, the vehicle can travel 170 mile on a charge.

The Zhong Tai is scheduled for production next year and they hope to eventually sell 20,000 units per year.  Currently, New Power is discussing options for selling the vehicle in both the UK and the US.

We will update you if any additional information becomes available.

Source:  Times Online UK