JAC E-JS1 evolves a lot with help from VW

How many times have you read “this Chinese car has a great price, but…”. I myself must have written these same words several times since 2010, when Asians began to participate more strongly in the Brazilian market. So, when JAC launched the E-JS1 and called for “the cheapest electric in Brazil”, it was already thinking about where the catch was.

What I didn’t immediately take into account was that JAC’s electric cars are no longer just the result of Chinese efforts. A few years ago, Volkswagen bought a stake in JAC’s electrified business in China, forming a joint venture called SOL and the E-JS1 comes from it. With that, Sergio Habib’s brand went “Star Wars” and gained “new hope”? For R$149,990, maybe so. Also because cheaper than it in another brand is the Renault Zoe, which starts at R$ 204,990, a considerable difference.

JAC E-JS1 (BR)
JAC E-JS1 (BR)

The E-JS1, the evolution of the iEV20 (which was based on J2), can even be called the first electric Volkswagen sold in Brazil, literally. It is one of the JAC-VW, or SOL, products in China. In practice, it’s still the subcompact car we knew, but with a number of changes.

Being electric, it has a 45 kW engine, or about 62 hp of power, installed on the front axle. The number may seem low, but two points on the E-JS1 soften that impression. First is what JAC is very light for an electric, weighing 1,180 kg. The second is something you should have learned a long time ago: what matters is torque. And that he has a lot, with 15.3 kgfm. The late VW up! TSI, for example, was just over 17 kgfm and nobody said he was slow…

JAC E-JS1 (BR)
JAC E-JS1 (BR)

The look gets to be funny. Not because the JAC E-JS1 is comical, but because its silhouette still resembles the J2 with the front that looks like a miniature Volkswagen ID.3. This includes the plastic fillets on the front bumper, the tapered headlamps and the linking element. This is all Volkswagen’s touch at JAC.

Also interesting to note that the JAC E-JS1 has a different solution for batteries. The most commonly found type today is lithium ion. In the subcompact, they are made of Lithium Iron Phosphate (Li-Fe-PO). The difference in delivery is small, but this type of battery is more resistant in extreme climates.

JAC E-JS1 (BR)

The solution is also used by Toyota in the all-wheel drive Prius offered in North America, where temperatures are low. The downside is that Li-Fe-PO batteries tend to withstand fewer charge cycles. In any case, the E-JS1 has a capacity of 30.2 kWh, which gives a range of 302 km. Fast recharge in electrostations (from 15% to 85%) takes 1 hour. In a wallbox with about 7 kW, it takes 3.5 hours. In a home outlet, a full charge (0% to 100%) requires 11 hours.

After understanding that the JAC E-JS1 is literally half VW half JAC on the outside, it was time to check out the model from the inside. Internal finishing always used to be the weak point of cheap Chinese and I can say that in this aspect I was surprised again, because it pleased right away.

Of course, the materials are still mostly rigid plastics, but the build quality has taken a leap. The cabin also looks like someone wasted time on the drawing. The controls were in more intuitive positions and the mix of colors and fabrics gave new life to the old J2.

Here it is noteworthy that the car tested was still an homologation prototype. Because of this, some items will be evaluated in the next opportunity, with a complete test. The multimedia center with a 10.25-inch screen, for example, had menus entirely in Mandarin. I didn’t understand a word of what was written and still managed to navigate until I sync my phone to the car’s Bluetooth and regulate the air conditioning.

JAC E-JS1 (BR)
JAC E-JS1 (BR)

Personally, I don’t like cars where the air controls are on the screen. But since it’s an automatic air conditioner, chances are you’ll adjust it once and never worry about it again. On the other hand, the small screen of the instrument panel (6.2″) proved to be quite right, with good resolution and quick menu changes.

Of course we’re still talking about a subcompact that was once a JAC J2. So the space in the rear seat is small. But the tram is a little better because it doesn’t have the central tunnel getting in the way of the floor. The trunk will also let you choose between taking 5 passengers, or 2 and luggage. The two at the same time there is no way.

JAC E-JS1 (BR)
JAC E-JS1 (BR)

On the one hand, my head was pounding that it was a R$150,000 car with manual adjustments for seats and steering wheel. On the other hand, the JAC E-JS1 already has auto-hold function, electronic parking brake and autopilot. What needs to change to understand the price of electric is that the amount paid goes largely to batteries and electrification technology. You can’t compare it with a combustion model in the same price range in terms of equipment.

Going to performance, as I said above, forget the power number and focus on torque, he is the boss. The JAC E-JS1 will not win any drag races and the top speed is limited to 110 km/h. That said, the model does beyond what is expected in the city. It picks up speed quickly and, with good soundproofing, you’ll catch yourself over the speed limit several times without realizing it.

Once again feeling the touch of VW in the car, the JAC E-JS1 brought a level of shooting quality that I had never experienced in Chinese models. It’s not just the interior finish, it’s the noise level in the cabin, reduced wind noise and even the suspension, which became firmer and more secure in the changes of direction while it stopped being present in the myriad noises present in the cabin. a Chinese car.

JAC will offer SOL’s first electric in Brazil for R$149,990 in a single version. Among the standard equipment of the E-JS1, it’s hard to hammer out what’s coming and what’s not. But the tentative list JAC is working on includes autopilot, electronic handbrake, automatic air conditioning, electric steering, leather seats, multifunction steering wheel, presence key, reverse camera, 14″ wheels and stability control .

But there are some blunders. One is to offer only a double front airbag, so it did no more than the obligation in this regard. The other is having only one USB port for the entire car. In times of people becoming more connected all the time, even when they shouldn’t, it was needed.

As the JAC E-JS1 I walked with had a Chinese standard socket, I preferred not to take risks with the charge I had in the batteries. I rode normally in the city. It was 120 km with 40% of the battery. So, despite the autonomy declared by the brand to be in the Chinese measurement standard, it didn’t seem too far-fetched.

In the end, the JAC E-JS1 will arrive to do exactly what it proposes: to be the cheapest electric car in Brazil. But, unlike the first Chinese who were “the cheapest in Brazil” and had workmanship and reliability issues, the E-JS1 is much more refined and complete. All he needed was Volkswagen to help.

Photos: Mario Villaescusa (for InsideEVs Brazil)