Cars > Electric

Would you drive this tiny EV that’s super cheap and claims to be British?

It would like to be called by its English name: Ark Zero

The Ark Zero is a city EV with cartoon-like proportions. PHOTO FROM ARK

Electric cars come in all shapes and sizes, and some of them are rather small. As in really, really small. Smaller even than the already tiny MG Comet. Say hello to the Ark Zero, a super small, super light, and super affordable EV designed for urban mobility.

The driver of this vehicle will get the last laugh as he squeezes in and out of traffic with ease. PHOTOS FROM ARK

When we saw that it was apparently made by a British company and on the market for just £5,995 (or a mere P430,000), we got a little bit excited, as cheap electric mobility is exactly what we need to get everyone to use it.

A closer look, however, shows that all is not what it seems. Still, the idea of super small and super cheap electric vehicles is an interesting one, as this machine demonstrates.

Just the right amount of tech and frills within this cabin that's meant to shuttle you around the city. PHOTOS FROM ARK

On its glossy website, Ark Motors makes it sound like the Zero was designed and built entirely in-house. The firm talks about urban mobility, vegan leather, and its design philosophy in ways that make it sound totally legit. You really get the impression that this London-based outfit has managed to create something really cool.

A modern vehicle that trendy city dwellers could use to commute or go shopping in. The car itself stands a mere 2.50m long, 1.20m wide, and 1.62m tall, with enough space for “two adults and a dog,” according to Ark.

All of these features for under half a million pesos is starting to sound a little too good to be true. PHOTOS FROM ARK

It’s a microcar with a claimed range of 80km and a top speed of 45km/h, made possible by a minuscule 3hp powertrain. Possibly meant to be a rival for the Citroen Ami or the Fiat Topolino, it also offers Bluetooth connectivity, a sunroof, and even a reversing camera.

Top that off with a claimed network of 300 service centers in the UK alone and lofty claims about self-driving abilities in the very near future, and you might be tempted to get your checkbook outbut not so fast! Something about the Zero seems weirdly familiar. Like we’ve seen this before somewhere.

If you buy directly from the Chinese manufacturer, it's cheaper. They also ship directly to the Philippines. SCREENSHOTS FROM ALIBABA

Influenced by a feeling of déjà vu, we did some digging and found this: a microcar sold on Alibaba by a Chinese company called Qingdao Raysince Industrial. You have to agree it looks eerily similar to the Ark Zero, right? One could even think it’s the same car.

Surely, a trendy British startup wouldn’t try to pass off a cheap Chinese microcar as its own invention? That would be terrible. What isn’t terrible is the price if you buy this tiny car directly from the (seemingly) actual manufacturer: There, it’s on sale for just $2,700, or around P150,000.

That’s really little money for something that can move two people around, and (if you squint) can pass as an electric car. Now, who will be brave enough to order one and try it on the streets of Metro Manila? Anyone?

Frank Schuengel

Frank is a German e-commerce executive who loves his wife, a Filipina, so much he decided to base himself in Manila. He has interesting thoughts on Philippine motoring. He writes the aptly named ‘Frankly’ column.