Buying a $1,700 electric jeep from China? Here’s what you’ll get

China’s online shopping site Alibaba is chock-full of interesting electric vehicles with all sorts of wacky designs. And for this week’s entry in the Awesomely Weird Alibaba Electric Vehicle of the Week, a super low-cost electric jeep like this looks just about as fun as it does oddly proportioned.

The vendor lists a price range of between US $1,000 to $2,400, but when I discussed it with them I was quoted a price of closer to US $1,700.

So what does US $1.7k get you in the world of cheap electric jeeps?

Not much, if you’re expecting something that can tackle the Rubicon trail. But if you’re looking for something fun to tool around the trailhead, this might be it. Well, as long as your legs aren’t too long.

electric mini jeep
Yes, I know there’s a muffler. They didn’t have pictures of the electric version for me

The electric jeep is more of a shrunken version, measuring a mere 2.2 meters (7.5 feet) long, bumper to bumper.

It’s got two seats, but the video below of an adult operating it makes it look like you and your riding buddy better be pretty close pals.

The electric jeep comes with three different motor options of 500W, 800W, and 1,500W. With the largest of the three offering a measly two horsepower of continuous power and perhaps 50% more in peak power, this isn’t going to be a high performance ride. The 48V 20Ah lead acid battery pack doesn’t sound too large, but they somehow magically quote a range of up to 130 km (80 miles). Good luck with that.

They do show it climbing an incline, but it doesn’t do so very fast. The little electric jeep’s top speed is just 35-40 km/h (22 to 25 mph), with the final figure in that range likely decided by how large your lunch was today.

There’s also only 10 cm (4 inches) of ground clearance, so you’ll want to be careful with any seriously uneven terrain.

If you do get stuck though, don’t fret. The little electric jeep includes a winch as part of the price. It’s not pictured, but they assured me it comes in the box. If you want any other accessories though, like the wheel cowls, taller roll bar, jerry cans or spare wheels, those will cost you extra.

And if your winch cable isn’t long enough to reach the nearest tree, the entire thing only weighs 180 kg (400 lb), so you can probably just grab one end and heave a bit.

It’s not quite as old school Willys jeep-looking as the last awesome electric jeep I found, but in a way I kind of like this one better. It doesn’t try too hard for a vintage army look, and instead offers a more 90s Wrangler vibe.

Of course this is a jeep with a lowercase ‘j’, so don’t expect any real Wrangler nods, but the design certainly looks like it’d be fun for playing around in while off-road. It won’t have quite the utility of most other electric UTVs, but it sure would turn more heads.

electric mini jeep

And before you start pulling out your wallet, please allow me to help you put that bad idea to rest. As usual, here’s my disclaimer that this column is meant to be tongue-in-cheek. It’s fun to find these weird and awesome EVs on Alibaba, but I never recommend anyone buying one. In fact, one of my readers bought something similar a couple years ago and found that the production quality was seriously lacking, to the point that he wouldn’t have been able to assemble it if he hadn’t owned a welder and been able to re-engineer it in his garage.

Then there’s the whole risk of buying on Alibaba in general. While I’ve had positive experiences buying some vehicles like my electric mini-truck and five seater electric boat, I’ve also had horror stories. I ordered an electric excavator several months ago, and while the transaction seemed to be going fine, the crate that finally showed up had a totally different useless machine in it that was effectively worthless. I was out some serious dough with absolutely no recourse (full story on that one coming soon, once I calm down).

So in good old fashioned “Do what I say, not what I do”, please don’t try and order weird things like this from Alibaba. Let’s just all enjoy window shopping and keeping our hard earned money in our bank accounts, getting drained monthly by Netflix, just like the good lord intended.

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