My wife Shawie and I were pleasantly surprised to receive an unscheduled demo vehicle from Chery Auto Philippines. We weren’t expecting another Chery test drive so soon, especially since we just had the top-of-the-line Tiggo 8 the previous weekend. My wife called up Elgie Nunez of United Asia Automotive Group, Inc. (UAAGI) just to be sure, and Elgie apologized when she realized that her message to us didn’t get through because of the technical glitches we’ve all been encountering with the erratic performance of cell sites and the internet.
But no matter. It was really a pleasant surprise to have the 2021 Chery Arrizo 5E as our weekend drive to celebrate our 21st wedding anniversary. Surprising not just because it was unexpected but because it is an electric vehicle (EV) that we’ll be driving for the weekend. It runs solely on batteries and the driver who delivered it told us that the batteries are fully charged, which is good for more than 350 kilometers. He also showed us the battery charger in the trunk along with a long extension cord, just in case we need to charge it during the five days that we’ll be driving it. Now, all we need to do is check our range anxiety out the door.
Electric is the New Black
Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock for the past several years, most automotive manufacturers are now coming out with their EVs. Toyota Motor Philippines kicked off the trend when they brought in the Prius Hybrid several years ago and they are sticking to their hybrid guns while the EV charging infrastructure in the Philippines is not yet available. Nissan announced that they will introduce their all-electric Leaf this year while Porsche Philippines debuted their electric Taycan and Jaguar Philippines flaunted their electric I-Pace, which we were able to briefly drive around a sustainable community in the south.
Chinese car manufacturers have been prolific in the EV trend because they badly need to switch to electro-mobility to curb their large appetite for petroleum as well as to curb the worsening air pollution in their major cities. With nearly two billion citizens, the growth of vehicle population in China is projected to be staggering, thus the need to expedite the switch to EVs and to quickly embrace the EV lifestyle. If common Chinese folk are used to riding electric scooters, then making them switch to electric cars and SUVs will be quite easy.
Easy Like Sunday Morning
And “easy” is one word that might be overused when describing the Arrizo. For one, it is easy to operate: there’s a simple start/stop push button that activates the car and raises the R-N-D rotary gear selector. Once the rotary knob is raised, you just twist it from N (neutral) to R (reverse) if you want to back the car unto the road and then rotate the knob to D (drive), where you leave it all the time you’re driving. The next thing to do is just to step on the accelerator pedal when you’re ready to go and then step on it more if you want to go faster.
If you want to slow the car down, all you have to do is lift your right foot and the Arrizo’s regenerative charging system takes “charge”, literally. Regenerative braking recharges the batteries when the electric motor that turns the wheels becomes a generator that is being turned by the wheels. It’s a simple and elegant engineering solution that’s quite easy to understand. Of course, when you need to stop, you just step on the brake pedal, just as you would in any vehicle, and this electric Chery’s 4-wheel disc brakes will do the rest.
Just Like Charging Your Mobile Phone
In case you didn’t know, EVs have been around since the late 1800s but they were overtaken by vehicles with internal combustion engines (ICE) simply because of how far ICE vehicles can be driven, the availability of fuel, and the shorter amount of time needed to load fuel. Early EVs had lead-acid batteries, which have shorter ranges and longer charging times. Modern EVs are often powered by lithium-ion batteries, which have longer ranges and quicker charging times.
Furthermore, the economies of scale have tipped in favor of lithium-ion batteries because of their mass production for smart phones, mobile devices, and EVs. We’ve gotten so used to our mobile devices that we make sure we charge them while we sleep, or if we have another charger, we also plug in a battery pack or two. In the same manner, living with the Arrizo is like having another mobile device, except it’s one that actually transports you physically, instead of virtually. To put it more succinctly, we’ve already developed the EV lifestyle but we aren’t just aware of it.
Smartphones and Smarter EVs
For example, we’ve become so adept at monitoring our mobile phone battery’s charge by eyeing the battery meter and becoming conscious of its use, where increased activities such as calls and data downloads, drain the battery faster. It’s the same thing with driving the Arrizo around Metro Manila, where the average journey is reported at only around 27 to 30 kilometers a day. Thus, if the Arrizo’s advertised range is 350 kilometers, we’ll only need to recharge every 10 days or so, without fully draining the batteries. That’s better than lining up at gas stations and filling up the fuel tank of our ICE vehicle every week when we drive the same distance.
To monitor the charge of its batteries, the Arrizo has a large highly legible range display that informs you how many kilometers you can drive safely before needing to recharge the batteries. The range display in the instrument panel showed a range of 372 kilometers when we first got in. We immediately drove to our favorite place to shoot photos before the rains fell, getting stuck in some traffic along the way, and leaving the air-conditioner and infotainment system on while taking photos. When we got back home, the range was still 360 kilometers, which means that if we decided to drive to Pampanga and go around Clark, the Arrizo will still have enough juice to take us back home.
Fully Loaded Modern Automobile
Besides being an all-electric car, the Chery Arrizo is a fully-loaded modern automobile. It features keyless entry, electronic parking brakes, leather-wrapped steering wheel, luxurious diamond-stitch leather seats, an A/C system that can be remotely activated, cruise control, navigation, alarm, and an infotainment system with a 10-inch touchscreen monitor that also acts as the monitor for the reverse camera. It also has an intelligent tire pressure monitoring system (TMPS), anti-lock brakes (ABS), electronic brake force distribution (EBD), electronic stability program (ESP), traction control (TCS) and an auto-hold brake function.
As an all-electric car, the Arrizo features a 90 kilowatt permanent magnet synchronous electric motor and a 53 kilowatt-hour ternary lithium-ion battery pack that can be charged from 30% to 80% within 30 minutes with a fast charger, or fully charged with 7 to 9 hours using a slow charger. An automated battery temperature control system allows the Arrizo to fully utilize 250 Newton-motors of torque to bring it up to a top speed of 152 km/h and an NEDC rated driving range of 401 kilometers.
The 2021 Chery Arrizo 5E EV, which is priced at P1,900,000, is a step in the right direction to introduce electro-mobility to more Filipinos. It may not be as sporty as the Porsche Taycan or as flashy as the Jaguar I-Pace (or as expensive as both European EVs), but it does a similar service of transporting five people safely and comfortably over long distances without spewing harmful emissions while helping preserve the environment. My wife and I hope that on our 41st wedding anniversary in 2040, we’ll have cleaner air and safer drives with more intelligent and more affordable future EVs.
Classification: 4-door compact electric vehicle
Engine type: Permanent magnet synchronous electric motor
Maximum power: 121 hp (90 kW)
Maximum torque: 250 Nm
Battery: 53 kWh ternary lithium-ion
Charging time: 7-9 hours (slow charger), 0.5 hour 30%-80% (fast charger)
Length: 4572 mm
Width: 1825 mm
Height: 1496 mm
Wheelbase: 2670 mm
Ground clearance: 210 mm
Curb weight: 1560 kg
Chery Auto Philippines
United Asia Automotive Group, Inc. (UAAGI)
728 A. Bonifacio Avenue, Balintawak, Quezon City
Tel. Nos.: (+632) 8442 4076 to78