A Quick Spin In A Chinese EV Raises Eyebrows And Expectations


Luxgen EV MPV – Click above for high-res image gallery

This little company could soon make a big splash in the automotive world.
Whether flashing down the highway or wending my way through Taipei's notoriously chaotic rush-hour traffic, I was duly impressed by Luxgen's battery-electric MPV. Quick, luxurious, and bristling with electronic technology, I was astonished at how well this car has been developed.

Acceleration from this seven-passenger minivan can only be described as brisk. Though I wasn't able to do any kind of timed runs, my seat-of-the-pants reaction is that it sure feels faster than a Chevy Volt or Nissan Leaf. And with its aggressive re-gen, I was pretty much able to drive in stop and go traffic without using the brakes. That sure makes traffic jams a whole lot easier to take.

The only thing that detracted from my test drive was an annoying whine in the drivetrain, which my Luxgen hosts said was due to an issue that they're working on with the transmission. They assured me that noise would be gone before the vehicle goes on sale. I have no reason to doubt them.


John McElroyJohn McElroy is host of the TV program "Autoline Detroit" and daily web video "Autoline Daily". Every week he brings his unique insights as a Detroit insider to Autoblog readers.



Every Luxgen was designed from scratch to take an engine, plug-in hybrid or electric motor.
You're forgiven if you've never heard of Luxgen before. Seems like few people know of it, even though Autoblog (and just about nobody else) dutifully reported on the brand's debut last year. Part of the reason for Luxgen's anonymity is that it's a start-up from Taiwan. Even so, this little company could soon make a big splash in the automotive world.

Luxgen has an SUV and MPV with gasoline engines that are already on sale in Taiwan. Next year, its Neora 4-door sedan, which debuted at the 2011 Shanghai Motor Show, will hit the showrooms. It also has a smaller hatchback coming sometime after that.

Importantly, Luxgen has done something that so far no other automaker has attempted. Each and every one of the vehicles it sells was designed from scratch to take an internal combustion engine, or a plug-in hybrid powertrain, or a battery-electric pack.

In other words, with next to no modifications it can flex production from ICE to PHEV to BEV to meet consumer demand. And by offering alternative powertrains across its entire product line it could achieve economies-of-scale faster than special-built hybrids or electric vehicles.

It may not be the catchiest name, but don't let names fool you. This company is for real.
Luxgen uses a 150-kW AC motor that produces the equivalent of 201 horsepower with and 162 pound-feet of torque, coupled to a lithium-ion battery pack. For comparison, the Volt uses a 111-kW motor, the Leaf 80 kW. The company worked with AC Propulsion of California to develop this technology. So far, we don't know a whole lot more than that. Luxgen isn't divulging more details for now.

The same goes for performance figures; not a lot to go on. Luxgen says its electric MPV will travel farther on a full charge than a Leaf even though it's a bigger and faster vehicle. But we don't know what driving cycle that claim is based on. No word yet on price, either.

Luxgen EV MPV interiorLuxgen EV MPV interior

Most impressively, Luxgen's models are tastefully styled, the fit and finish and build quality are first rate, and the use of interior materials is superb. Its 10-inch nav screen is the biggest in the business and features crystal clear graphics. It also offers a heads-up display, and a night vision system that does not rely on infra-red. Clearly, Luxgen is mining Taiwan's famous electronics industry for leading-edge technology.

Luxgen is a subsidiary of the Yulon Group, a Taiwanese conglomerate comprising 88 other companies that are involved in everything from textiles to electronics to automotive. The name comes from combining the words Luxury and Genius. It may not be the catchiest name, but don't let names fool you. This company is for real.

Recently, Luxgen signed an agreement with Chinese company Dongfeng to manufacture its vehicles on the mainland. That ought to put the rest of the automotive world on notice.



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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 73 Comments
      lne937s
      • 3 Years Ago
      I'll park this next to the Mahindra Pickup and BYD e6 that were already supposed to be here. It is easy to make promises. Making a car that meets federal regulations, performs and is reliable in the real world, and can be sold at a profit is another matter.
      warren,
      • 3 Years Ago
      "On notice"? Really? Building an EV is actually pretty easy compared to: - building global brand awareness and respect - establishing a network of reputable dealers in a variety of markets - supporting long-tail auto ownership experiences like replacement parts, repairs, warranty, etc. It is exceedingly difficult for a new automaker to break into today's mainstream market without the support of an existing distribution network. I really don't think Nissan or GM are going to be worried... they'll have plenty of time to advance their EV tech over the next five-ten years before Luxgen even begins to figure into the EV market in Europe and the Americas.
        Jim
        • 3 Years Ago
        @warren,
        the thing I watch for is durability/reliability. I have no doubt that many companies can design and build a car that *works*, be it gas, hybrid, or electric. What I wonder is if they had the knowledge and/or resources to come up with a proper validation test plan and carry it out. It's all well and good that it's pure electric, fast, and has good range; but if it's breaking down every month and is not worth fixing before it's 5 years old, then what good is it?
      IBx27
      • 3 Years Ago
      Yeah...no. No chinese, taiwanese, whatevernese EV can compete with the Volt or Leaf. Step 1 to building a successful EV is to have batteries that don't explode and kill everyone in the car.
        cpt
        • 3 Years Ago
        @IBx27
        FYI, BMW, Fisker, Ford and Luxgen all sourced their EV battery module, along with other auto components, from Taiwanese suppliers.
      sam
      • 3 Years Ago
      luxgen is taiwanese..not chinese =)
        Reece Lightning
        • 3 Years Ago
        @sam
        well technically they prefer to be called the republic of china and being called taiwanese or chinese is both correct apparently according to wikipedia
          Sukairain
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Reece Lightning
          Well, Taiwanese by nationality, Chinese by ethnicity.
      Rotation
      • 3 Years Ago
      They photoshopped the Zero Emission logo straight off a Leaf onto their own model (render). Yeah, that really shows us our expectations that the Taiwanese and Chinese are really only good at copying are wrong.
        cpt
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Rotation
        Luxgen is a subsidiary of Yulon, who officially manufactures and distributes Nissan vehicles in Taiwan. I don't have proof but I tend to think that the use of the Nissan zero emission logo is not entirely plagiarism.
          Koll
          • 3 Years Ago
          @cpt
          Yulon also owns majority stack in CMC - Mitsubishi manufacturer in Taiwan, and also 50% owner of Soueast motors in China - making MMC for Mainland market. That is how YuLon big. it has more than 50 years car manufacturing expertise
      Jeferson
      • 3 Years Ago
      It's just me or that's a Tucson with the i30's headlights?
      • 3 Years Ago
      [blocked]
        lne937s
        • 3 Years Ago
        I would say "most Americans think they don't want Chinese designed and manufactured vehicles." But if you look at Apple products (made by Taiwanese/Chinese companies like Hon Hai/Foxconn and ASUS), Americans have no problem buying Chinese when it is a compelling product (especially if it is sold under a US brand).
          • 3 Years Ago
          @lne937s
          [blocked]
        • 3 Years Ago
        [blocked]
          • 3 Years Ago
          [blocked]
        nismokid02
        • 3 Years Ago
        You do realize businesses in Taiwan is very different from businesses in China. The irony is about 90% of the parts of the computer you used to write that comment was from Taiwan.
          styxmiko
          • 3 Years Ago
          @nismokid02
          right, but it wasn't a car...
        Alex Ellsworth
        • 3 Years Ago
        Taiwan is not China. For all practical purposes, it's a separate country. We have to pretend that it's part of China so as not to make mainland China angry, but the fact is that it has a completely separate, non-communist government going back to 1949. (Essentially, modern Taiwan was established by the former government of China when they got driven out during the communist revolution - it's analagous to South Korea vs. North Korea.) Taiwan = Republic of China vs. China = PEOPLE'S Republic of China South Korea = Republic of Korea vs. North Korea = DEMOCRATIC PEOPLE'S Republic of Korea (The names are ironic, eh?)
          lne937s
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Alex Ellsworth
          Taiwanese companies tend to rely heavily on mainland manufacturing. Even if final assembly is done in Taiwan, chances are the majority of components come from mainland China.
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Alex Ellsworth
          [blocked]
      • 3 Years Ago
      [blocked]
        sheikurbooti
        • 3 Years Ago
        No, but the American concept Santa Claus or Jack-o-lanterns is all entirely original. Almost every American custom or tradition, especially those utilized for the sake of commercialism, is a bastardization of something from the "old" country.
      • 3 Years Ago
      [blocked]
      • 3 Years Ago
      [blocked]
      alphaass
      • 3 Years Ago
      The subtitle is a bit misleading: the company is Taiwanese not Chinese (though the production models will be made in China).
        • 3 Years Ago
        @alphaass
        [blocked]
          cpt
          • 3 Years Ago
          To be clear, "China" or "Chinese" refers to the communist PROC (People's Republic of China). If Taiwan is referred, it's "Taiwan", "Taiwanese", or "ROC", but never "China". I know this is extremely confusing and political but people from Taiwan gets annoyed easily if you don't distinguish them from mainland China.
        Dest
        • 3 Years Ago
        @alphaass
        Chinese is a proper demonym for those who live in the Republic of CHINA (Taiwan), which is the official name, NOT Taiwan. Only nationalistic overseas Taiwanese boys try to make a point that they are Taiwanese.
        MigrantWorker
        • 3 Years Ago
        @alphaass
        Repeat after me: Taiwan is a province of China.
          Bruce Lee
          • 3 Years Ago
          @MigrantWorker
          I don't know why he gets downvoted but technically both Taiwan and the People's Republic of China believe Taiwan to be a province of China. It's just that the government of Taiwan (the Republic of China) believes that it should rule over all the other provinces too, and likewise the government of the People's Republic of China also believes that it should rule over all the provinces including Taiwan. Anybody who thinks otherwise is ignorant of history and politics.
      Blakkar
      • 3 Years Ago
      In the autopsy, we will find that this machine is built on copied GM VOLT and Tesla Technology.
        Paul
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Blakkar
        You are wrong about this. It has nothing in common with VOLT. As the article states, it uses AC Propulsion Technology which incidentally Tesla also licensed.
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