Cars > Electric

The small ChangLi Mini EV is perfect for a village

We saw one near our office in Barangay Kapitolyo, Pasig

Who needs a tire stopper when the car is as tiny as the ChangLi? PHOTO BY VERNON B. SARNE

We don’t need to tell you that electric vehicles are growing more and more popular these days. And that’s largely due to the new law that made EVs recognized entities in the Philippines—perks and all. In fact, I fully expect these engine-less cars to aggressively enter the country in the coming year.

I mean, the signs are there. Unheard-of Chinese EV brands are appearing, and charging stations are gradually multiplying. Established automakers that will ignore this trend might drop the ball big time.

And as if to confirm my theory, I saw a new ChangLi Mini EV at the ground floor of our office, being used by a couple who lives in Barangay Kapitolyo, Pasig City.

It's not gorgeous, obviously. But at least it could be considered adorable. PHOTO BY VERNON B. SARNE

The car stood out because, well, it was so small. It was so cute that I just had to ask the guy if I could take photos of it. Fortunately, Noel Catanghal was nice enough to accommodate the curiosity of a stranger.

According to Noel, the EV was given to them by his father-in-law, who had purchased it on the Alibaba website. Apparently, the car cost something like P140,000, including shipping.

We stand corrected. This car requires a tire stopper to prevent it from rolling down an incline. PHOTO BY VERNON B. SARNE

Noel said they usually just used the car in Kapitolyo, where everything (restaurants, groceries, coffee shops, even veterinary clinics) is a stone’s throw away.

They charge the car overnight at home, and the charge lasts them two weeks. Not surprising since they only drive 3km daily on average. Needless to say, the ChangLi EV insulates the couple from wild fuel-price hikes.

Fit-and-finish quality is not flawless, and that's expected for the price. PHOTO BY VERNON B. SARNE

The EV hits a maximum of 55km/h, according to Noel. It has an unpretentious interior, which is air-conditioned. Knocking on the exterior, he told me that the material must be “galvanized iron.”

Armed with this knowledge, Noel and his wife still hadn’t brought the EV to EDSA. Which is something to avoid, if you think about it. Yes, the car’s top speed is perfect for the always-congested highway (whose speed limit is 60km/h), but its diminutive size puts it at the mercy of SUVs, MPVs, pickups, trucks and buses.

Prepare to be peppered with inquiries from strangers. PHOTO BY VERNON B. SARNE

Like I said, you can expect the steady influx of electric vehicles from now until next year. With cheap pricing like the ChangLi’s, you can also bet they will be in high demand especially among carless families.

Are you ready for these movers?

Vernon B. Sarne

Vernon is the founder and editor-in-chief of VISOR. He has been an automotive journalist since July 1995. He became one by serendipity, walking into the office of a small publishing company and applying for a position he had no idea was for a local car magazine. God has watched over him throughout his humble journey. He writes the ‘Spoiler’ column.