Electric vehicle importer Innovation Automotive will bring its first Chinese vans into the UK in early 2022 using a direct-to-customer model targeting the business segment.
CEO Paul Brigden, a former operations director at Mitsubishi Motors in the UK, said: “We aim to be different and innovative. We saw the customer journey and what they wanted – 100% electric. We are making it accessible, easy and sustainable.”
Although the sales model is direct-to-customer, Brigden recognises the need for a national network of aftersales operators for service, maintenance and repair and is in talks with several prospective partners.
Innovation Automotive will initially import two vans from DFSK. The EC35 compact panel van will offer 950kg payload and range of 150 miles from its 39kWh battery. It features sliding side doors and rear opening doors for good accessibility. The EC31 chassis cab sits on the same underpinnings with identical range but offers a larger payload of 1,190kg.
They will be followed by a Skywell DO7 later in the year, a smaller model with 80kg payload and 150-plus miles range. It will be an “affordable entry point” to electric and aimed at inner city delivery and last mile companies, competing against mainly car-derived vans.
“We see a lot of unfulfilled demand with SMEs and smaller operators which aren’t big enough for the larger manufacturers,” said Brigden. “They have a desire to change to electric, but it’s not as simple for them. But we can help them make the transition.”
DFSK offers a growing range of electric vehicles in China and Brigden will choose the right ones to bring to the UK. He also expects to add more brands to give a good mix of price points and sizes, while also expanding the vehicle line-up to include cars.
“Chinese manufacturers see the UK as an attractive market,” he says. “It’s a perfect time as we are about to go into a big growth period for electric.”
The vans will be imported under Small Series Type Approval to begin with, but Brigden doesn’t rule out switching to full Whole Vehicle Type Approval if necessary.