Tiger King introduced us to characters such as Joe Exotic and Carole Baskin, as well as the weird world of big cat collectors and rescuers. It also reminded us about the existence of the $10,599 Kandi Coco, which briefly appears in scenes of the series filmed at Exotic’s Oklahoma zoo. Nearly a decade ago, the Chinese brand’s small, Smart-like electric vehicle was available to Oklahomans for as little as $865 thanks to then-available federal and state tax credits.
Now, Kandi is back with two new EVs it plans to sell in the United States: the Model K27 and Model K23. Curiously, the numerically higher Model K27 is the cheaper, lower-performance version of the two. That said, it’s also the better looking of this pair. Mind you, looks are subjective and the K27 is anything but pretty.
2021 Kandi Model K27 Highlights
Still, we have an affinity for this $19,999 (before tax incentives) model’s Kei-car-like styling, which includes features such as expressive ovoid headlamps, stubby and tall proportions, and a set of small, 14-inch wheels and tires. At 136.2 inches long and 63.6 inches high, the four-door Model K27 casts a shadow 8.2 inches shorter and 3.8 inches taller than the 2019 Fiat 500 hatchback.
As its size suggests, the Model K27 is a city car. That’s for the best, too, as the less than 30 hp produced by the car’s front-mounted electric motor leaves this 2,271-pound EV with a top speed of 63 mph. Driving range, meanwhile, stands at a manufacturer-estimated 100 miles with the car’s 17.7-kWh battery pack fully charged. Replenishing the little Kandi’s battery requires 7.0 hours when hooked up to a 240-volt charger, per the automaker. Despite its relatively cheap starting sum, the Model K27 sports standard kit such as a 9.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system, dual-front airbags, and anti-lock brakes.
2021 Kandi Model K23 Highlights
If the Model K27 fails to suit your EV needs, then maybe the 20.2-inch longer Model K23 is the Kandi EV for you. At $29,999 (before tax incentives), however, the bigger Model K23 makes less of a case for itself as a value proposition. Consider the 2020 Nissan Leaf starts at $32,525, offers more palatable styling, and packs more than four times the horsepower from its electric motor.
That said, the 2,954-pound Model K23’s less than 30-hp electric motor and 41.4-kWh battery pack manage a manufacturer-estimated 188 miles of driving range on a full charge—39 more miles than the Leaf’s EPA-estimated range. With a top speed of 70 mph, though, the front-wheel-drive Model K23 will surely spend more time scurrying about in the right lane. Recharging the pack is a 7.5-hour affair on a 240-volt charger, according to Kandi.
Inside, the Model K23 features a 10.0-inch touchscreen infotainment screen. We also anticipate the car’s larger size nets it additional cargo and passenger space relative to the smaller Model K27.
Still, we struggle to find any justification for buyers to pull the trigger on the Model K23 when the boring, but well-equipped 2020 Nissan Leaf costs a mere $2,526 more. Regardless, if you find either Kandi model sweet, then you can put down a refundable $100 deposit to secure one of these EVs anytime after August 18, 2020.
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