Curbside Capsule: 2007 Flybo EV – A Remnant Of The Not-So-Great Chinese EV Dynasty

It seems like only yesterday that dozens of companies were trying to get in on the latest gold rush by trumpeting their EVs. Actually, it was roughly between 2005 and 2010, a period that preceded true EVs like the Leaf. Trying to exploit the lingering sadness of people still grieving the demise of the GM EV-1, little third-tier Chinese shit-boxes like the notorious Zap and various incarnations of Smart clones dominated way too much blogosphere bandwidth than they deserved. And where have they all gone?Well, I finally found one of the Dumbs in Eugene. And where? At a battery shop, of course. Who else can keep it in the lead-acid batteries that way too many innocent buyers managed to fry as regularly as their breakfast eggs. 

Even though I just took a stab at the model year, I’m pretty sure this is a Flybo. As such, it probably was made by Shandong Hyoyun Electromobile, and is essentially the same car that Mercedes got an injunction against when it appeared, in 2007, with a very Smart-like front end. Still, a closer look  reveals a number of differences in the details. I have reason to believe that several Chinese companies were making Smart “clones” that were similar only in basic shape. Unlike the Smart, which employs a very carefully engineered safety understructure, these cars are cheap fiberglass bodies atop extremely crude frames of welded channel stock that tend to rust very quickly outside of the most benign climate.

The interiors were slapped together from readily available components. I’ve seen that dash in the Zap and several other variants of these cars.

Since the Smart clones had four wheels, they were relegated to Low Speed NEV status, which in most states limits top speed to 25 mph. Take good care of it, because someday it will be a genuine relic of an era whose passing is not much-lamented.