Changan Benben E-Star available with cobalt-free LFP battery (update)

Changan Benben E-Star
Changan Benben E-Star

Changan Benben E-Star is a cute small electric car currently available with a NEDC range of 301 km and a 32,2 kWh NCM battery with generous warranty (300.000 km or 10 years).

The good news is that recent MIIT’s documents show a new homologated version with a cobalt-free LFP (LiFePO4) battery. However, it’s not clear if this electric car will soon have two battery options, or become available only with a LFP battery.


Changan Benben E-Star specs

  • Length: 3.770 mm
  • Wheelbase: 2.410 mm
  • Width: 1.650 mm
  • Height: 1.570 mm
  • Total weight: 1.535 kg
  • Curb weight: 1.160 kg
  • Tire specifications: 175/60R15
  • Number of seats: 5
  • Motor: 55 kW and 170 N.m of torque (liquid cooled)
  • Maximum speed: 101 km/h
  • DC fast charging: 30 minutes (30-80 %)
  • On-board charging: 8,35 hours
  • Range: 310 km (NEDC)
  • Consumption: 10,5 kWh/100 km (NEDC)
  • Battery capacity: 31 kWh
  • Battery weight: 228 kg
  • Battery energy density: 140,5 Wh/kg
  • Starting price: 69.800 yuan (8.878 euros)


Changan Benben E-Star interior

Changan Benben E-Star interior


It’s great to see that Chinese automakers are moving to cobalt-free batteries really fast. This shows us their true commitment to mass produce electric cars. Without cobalt-free batteries electric cars can’t compete with ICE (Internal Combustion Engine) cars in price and availability.

Nowadays I don’t even bother much with announcements of electric cars that still have cobalt in their batteries, since they won’t be produced in high numbers.


Anyway, I really like this electric car. Making small electric cars that look good isn’t an easy task, most look like cereal boxes with wheels… Changan did a good job.

Since most European legacy automakers are still focused on expensive electric cars to show off their green credentials, Chinese automakers might use small and affordable electric cars to arrive to this continent and start building up trust with consumers.

After consumers know which Chinese brands are reliable, they will have the confidence required to buy more expensive electric cars. This was the strategy that Chinese companies successfully used for smartphones.


What do you think? Which kind of Chinese electric cars is more likely to succeed first in Europe? A BYD Han EV or Xpeng P7 that aim to become a more affordable alternative to Tesla or this one that goes for the entry-level market?



More info:

Pedro Lima

My interest in electric transportation is mostly political. I’m tired of coups and wars for oil. My expectation is that the adoption of electric transportation will be a factor for peace and democracy all over the world.

9 Responses

  1. Famlin says:

    301 km NEDC is 225 km WLTP and this is good enough to cover 95% of the trips for most customers. For distance beyond, they can rent an ICE car or just drive this car and charge after 2 – 3 hours drive.

    I think these type of sub-compact crossovers will be flooded on the world market just like the solar panels were flooded. Time for automakers to take things seriously.

    Of late, there is new that both Tesla & VW are considering $25.000 BEV.

    • Pajda says:

      Got recently some experience with VW triplets and it only convinced me that Elon was right in 2012 when he said something like that 200 miles EPA is the value of range which makes electric vehicle truly usable. And this is valid even for A segment, but I agree that there is no actual need to go significantly higher in this particular segment. VW triplets should get the CATL 60Ah cells in gen1 battery design with 17 modules and 45kWh capacity and they will be perfect.

      • Pedro Lima says:

        I also think that moving to pouch cells was a bad decision. If VW kept using VDA PHEV2 cells they could even upgrade to SVOLT’s LFMP cells next year.

  2. Freddy says:

    Starting a entry on market from low end to high end was always a good strategy for Chinese in many areas.. This give them time to perfect products… A xiaomi mi 10 cost new much more than any other mi# line model when launched, it is becoming much more upmarket…

  3. yoyo says:

    The entry level market is where they could make the greatest sales volume and I would welcome them in the US too…
    MG has already started in the EU market and could use a small cheap BEV to make greater and greater in roads…
    The enter cheap strategy worked for Toyota, Kia, Honda, Datsun, Hyundai so it is rather proven…

  4. Leo B says:

    This car is closely related to the 2014 Suzuki Celerio. Since Jiangnan sold a Celerio predecessor, the 2nd generation 1984 Alto, as an electric car into the 2010’s, the E-star probably has some life in it for a while.
    The LFP version of this car was already available through Changan’s Kaicheng commercial vehicle channel, then called the Changan Ruixing ES30.

    Vehicles like this are probably not very likely to succeed in Europe, because they cannot be sold cheap enough. An imported E-star would likely be priced similar to the cheaper ICE versions of VW Polo and alike. I doubt many people would be persuaded.

    I think high-end cars will have a better chance. Chinese manufacturers and investors probably think that as well. Nio, BYD, XPeng and LI Auto are now the most valuable brands in market capitalisation. Only BYD makes more than 100.000 cars a year.
    BAIC-Magna has introduced Arcfox, Dongfeng introduced Voyah, GAC spins off Aion as a brand and wants to push it up-market, SAIC and Alibaba join forces with a new brand called Zhiji, Changan-Huawei-CATL introduce the CHN brand (“CHiNa” or Changan-Huawei-Ningde, whatever you like, Ningde Shidai being CATL in Chinese). All premium NEV brands, focusing on autonomic driving and going after Nio and Tesla. It seems to me the leading forces in China have chosen.

  5. WillieE says:

    The physical dimensions/specs on this car are almost identical to my 2016 Chevy Spark EV and I like the exterior and interior designs. It would be cool if the battery/BMS/on board charger could be swapped to the Spark then I’d be ecstatic with the range upped to over 150 miles to go along with the Sparks 105kw/443nm (140hp/327lb ft) and 90mph top speed.

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