The Kaliningrad plant “Avtotor” began to replace the models of European and South Korean partners who had suspended cooperation with the enterprise. The first car from a friendly country was the Kaiyi E5 sedan. What kind of car is this and what models will still be produced at Avtotor – Izvestia found out.
Italian design, Chinese technology
The car brand Kaiyi Auto, according to the official website, was established in 2014. However, at that time it was called Cowin and was wholly owned by the Chinese Chery. It was planned to produce cheap and simple cars under the brand, but the domestic market did not appreciate the idea and sales were low.
In 2018, Chery sold a 51% majority stake, which was split between a Yibin provincial government commercial entity and Sichuan Yibin Push Group, owned by local alcohol producer Wuliangye Group. After the rebranding, the Kaiyi brand began to adhere to the new philosophy of “innovation and authenticity” and focuses on the youth. She acquired a factory in the province of Yibin and a design center in Turin, which is headed by a native of Pininfarina, Louis Vermiers. However, technically still strongly associated with Chery. The E5 sedan is based on the Chery Arizzo 7 model, once sold in Russia; the X3 and Kunlun models are related to the Tiggo crossovers.
Kaiyi E5 is the first model to be installed on the Avtotor conveyor. According to the Russian website Kaiyi Auto, the length of the car is 4670 mm and the wheelbase is 2700 mm. Thus, the car belongs to the C-segment and is comparable in size to the Skoda Octavia, Kia Cerato and Hyundai Elantra.
Under the hood is a 1.5 turbo engine derated for the Russian market up to 147 horsepower. It works in tandem with a five-speed “mechanics” or a variator with nine virtual gears. The rear suspension is independent.
– The car looks very decent, I sat in the cabin and started the engine: it works very quietly. The design is said to have been made in Turin. There is enough space in the cabin, the three of us are not crowded in the back, the trunk is large. There is a large multimedia screen, ABS, ESP, heated front seats, USB sockets both in front and in the back, – auto expert Igor Morzharetto shared his impressions of the car with Izvestia.
Taxi drivers will appreciate
In fact, this is the only sedan of the C + segment currently produced in our country, says Sergey Burgazliev, an independent consultant on the automotive industry. He calls its competitive advantages a large trunk (about 500 liters) and a decent supply of free space in the rear seats. In conditions when taxi companies are forced to buy crossovers due to a shortage of models, the appearance of a relatively affordable sedan on the Russian market will be received with a bang, the expert believes.
“If Avtotor can offer cars with a good level of equipment — heated seats, air conditioning, ESP — then, given the potentially high interest in the Kaiyi E5 model from taxi companies, it will provide itself with orders for at least 1-1.5 years,” Burgazliev believes. .
With further localization
Avtotor invested more than 100 million rubles in the modernization of the production line for the production of Kaiyi E5 cars. Pilot production was carried out from December 2022 to January 2023. Now 400 people are involved in the line.
The assembly is still SKD: from China – a welded and painted body. Components are supplied from China, through the ports of the Far East, the railway lines of the Trans-Siberian Railway. Also, options have been worked out using the ferry lines St. Petersburg – Kaliningrad region.
So far, only batteries are in Russian-made cars, Igor Morzharetto specified. In the future, a wider use of local components with a gradual transition to a full production cycle is envisaged.
How much can a car cost
The start of sales of the E5 model is scheduled for the first quarter of 2023. The price will start around 1 million rubles, Evgeny Petukhov, senior vice president of Avtotor Holding, told reporters.
“For each customer, a complete set is expected – one set for a retail consumer, another for a taxi, and a third for carsharing. Each client has its own program of acquisition, support and stimulation of demand. Therefore <...> the price can start, let’s say, from 1 million rubles and lower, and, in fact, higher. More detailed information will be provided on the official website,” TASS quoted him as saying.
Petukhov also reported a guarantee for the car – three years or 150 thousand kilometers.
Three more models
By the end of 2023, three more models of the brand are planned to enter the Russian market. They are already known, thanks to the official website of the brand. This is a 4400 mm X3 crossover with a 1.5 aspirated (116 horsepower) and a CVT, its X3 Pro version with a 1.5 turbo engine (147 horsepower) and a CVT. The third model will be a larger (4708 mm) X7 Kunlun crossover with a 2.0 engine (249 horsepower) and a “robot”.
According to Igor Morzharetto, by the end of the year, depending on the situation, Avtotor will produce up to 100,000 vehicles, half of which will be the E5 sedan.
Another model, perhaps, will be an electric car. Last summer, Kaiyi demonstrated an electric version of the E5 sedan with a range of 350-410 km. In any case, further prospects for expanding cooperation between Avtotor and Kaiyi Auto are associated with projects for the production of electric vehicles, as well as other vehicles using alternative fuels.
In addition, the production of two more Chinese brands will begin at Avtotor, Igor Morzharetto told Izvestia.