You can now buy Changli's super cheap EVs in the US, but there's a major catch

A trio of cheap Changli electric cars
(Image credit: Changli / TechRadar)

Electric cars are everywhere now, which will eventually help lower prices to a more reasonable level. Even then, EVs will be expensive, putting them out of reach for many people.  

However, don't despair because Electrek has found a genuinely cheap EV for the masses. Changli is a Chinese company that makes a few tiny, quirky EVs, and you can import one.

Electric Import Motors (EIM) is the company behind imported Changli cars, and has accumulated a waiting list of up to six months, depending on the model. 

The bargain EVs feature lead-acid batteries and rudimentary interiors, so it's not hard to see where the cost savings were found. 

Lead acid batteries are far less expensive than lithium-ion batteries, but fall far behind on efficiency, and lifespan. Lithium-ion batteries are also generally more reliable.

You've also got to consider shipping, which bumps Changli's super cheap prices to more still affordable, just not quite so low. 

EIM's imports run $6,500 for a car and $8,500 for a truck, and you'll need to pay upwards of $800 or more for shipping to your door. The company handles all of the hard work of importing the cars and completing paperwork.

A major catch

While not "cheap" by many people's standards, EIM's price tag is still a far cry from the cost of a standard electric car. The Nissan Leaf, for example, offers 149 miles of range and costs just shy of $28,000.

You do have to consider the fact we're talking about vehicles that are much closer to a golf cart in size and capability than they are to a more traditional road car.

Even knowing all of that, the cars are fascinating. The small car model can travel around 20 miles per charge and can reach 25 mph. 

The truck delivers 40 miles of range per charge and a top speed of 35 mph. All of that said, you can't drive a Changli on the road in the US, so what we're really talking about is an expensive backyard toy or a neat farm runabout.

Changli's vehicles don't meet Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS), which means they lack one or more features required for a vehicle to legally operate on US roads.

Chris Teague
Freelance Contributor

After working in the technology and software industry for several years, Chris began writing as a way to help people outside of that world understand the sometimes very technical work that goes on behind the scenes. With a lifelong love of all things automotive, Chris turned his attention to writing new vehicle reviews, detailing industry trends, and breaking news. Along the way, he earned an MBA with a focus on data analysis that has helped him gain a strong understanding of why the auto industry’s biggest companies make the decisions they do.