Aiways might not be a name that trips off the tongue, yet, but given this boldly styled new electric SUV that may change soon for the Chinese start-up with some big beasts from the European auto industry working for it.
We saw a teaser sketch of the new Aiways U6ion two weeks ago and were impressed enough to want to see the real thing. Here it is then… Although only in the form of a couple of studio shots and not under the lights at the Geneva Motor Show as was originally intended. That had to be cancelled because of an altogether different sort of export from China.
The U6ion is a concept for a battery-powered crossover coupe, designed, says the firm, primarily for young people. It is only the second model from the new company – a subsidiary of the giant Chinese SAIC corporation – which can count on Roland Gumpert (ex Audi Sport boss famous for the Gumpert Apollo supercar) and Ken Okuyama, former Pininfarina design chief, among its talent pool.
Okuyama, the design master behind the Ferrari Enzo, is Aiways’ chief design advisor and the person who led the design team for the U6ion. And as you might expect it is a muscular design, in the mould of the Tesla Model X but with a striking “shark’s fin” C-pillar, glass fastback roof and distinctive curved rear spoiler among its USPs. Aiways claims its sporty shape aims to attract younger buyers to the zero-emission SUV market while also being a notably aerodynamic design. The company claims a class-leading Cd is 0.27.
Aiways’ Alex Klose, executive vice president of overseas markets, says the U6ion concept represents a sportier and more characterful expression of the Aiways philosophy. “Options remain limited in the all-electric SUV market and we are aiming to meet the needs of youthful, environmentally-conscious buyers with a vehicle that suits their lifestyle.”
Intelligent tech and lightweight design are themes inside – along with square steering wheel. A floating display behind the wheel contains essential information while a freestanding 14.6-inch touchscreen mounted centrally in the dashboard controls vehicle settings and multi-media system. A “little robot” on the dash provides the human/machine interface using advanced voice recognition.
The doors are able to showcase the owner’s personality with customizable backlit panels while Aiways says in-car stowage is particularly inventive: not just umbrellas within the doors but also a space on the back seat for your drone and a hidden compartment in the boot for an electric scooter.
The U6ion is built around Aiways’ own new platform that already underpins the U5 SUV, Aiways’ first model which goes on sale in selected left-hand drive European markets from August. With motor and battery pack the platform is claimed to be relatively low weight.
There is no mention of power or performance so far, but there is an emphasis on the latest electronic driver and safety aids. As Aiways tech chief Winter Wang says: “I am proud to say that the U6ion has a feature list to rival the most forward-thinking and pioneering automotive brands in the world. It brings these technologies together in a sporty design that will resonate with a youthful and active audience.”