Changan has launched the world's first range-extender pickup truck, the Changan Hunter, in the Chinese market

Kevin WongMar 11, 2024, 08:10 AM

Changan has launched the Hunter, a range-extended electric pickup, marking a global first for this drive form. Traditionally, pickups relied on diesel engines, later incorporating turbocharged diesel and gasoline engines. In the era of new energy, some manufacturers adopted pure electric drive, limiting utility for work-oriented pickups. The range-extended drive ensures fuel efficiency, strong power, and crucially eliminates range anxiety. On March 1, 2024, Changan officially released the Hunter in China, offering eight models with two-wheel and four-wheel drive, priced from ¥139,900-216,900 (approximately 696,000-1,079,000 Thai Baht).

What makes the Changan Hunter noteworthy?

The Hunter is equipped with a 2.0T Blue Whale range extender, electric motor, and battery, forming a range-extended hybrid system. The 2.0T range extender boasts a maximum power of 190 horsepower, while the two-wheel-drive variant features a 130 kW rear-mounted electric motor. The four-wheel-drive model employs a dual-motor setup of 70 kW and 130 kW, with a peak torque of 470 Nm and an acceleration time of 7.9 seconds per hundred kilometers.

In comparison to models using 1.5T engines as range extenders, Hunter's powerful 2.0T range extender provides ample energy output, supporting charging as low as 8% and below. Additionally, the Hunter introduces an industry-first one-key power injection mode for effortless tackling of loaded uphill conditions.

In terms of range, the Changan Hunter achieves 131 kilometers in pure electric range (NEDC) and surpasses 1000 kilometers in comprehensive range. With a CLTC combined fuel consumption of 1.3L/100km, the vehicle offers efficient energy usage. Additionally, it features a 3.3 kW external power discharge function, an integrated 220V plug, and a maximum reserve of 227-degree electricity. This allows practical use of 2000W appliances for over 100 hours, catering to diverse driving scenarios.

Additionally, the battery pack features five major safety protections, including a "cage-type" battery crash structure, all-weather thermal management temperature control technology, and high-security zero-heat diffusion.

The Changan Hunter offers both standard and optional extended cargo beds. The standard cargo bed measures 1600×1595×500mm, while the extended version is 1850×1595×500mm. The maximum rated payload capacity is 495 kilograms, and the dual-motor four-wheel-drive model is qualified for towing up to 2500 kilograms. Consideration for the optional extended cargo bed allows for increased load capacity. Additionally, the tailgate features a slow lowering function and a segmented opening footstep, enhancing practicality.

In terms of exterior, the Changan Hunter adopts the latest family-oriented design with a borderless grille featuring a matrix-style decoration. Paired with sharp headlights on either side, it presents a refined and stylish visual effect that's hard to associate with a pickup. However, the robust front bumper accentuates a rugged style, cleverly merging fashion and toughness, breaking away from traditional pickup design concepts and delivering a completely fresh visual experience.

In terms of body color options, the Changan Hunter offers consumers a choice of eight colors, including vibrant options like Magnetic Blue, Bordeaux Red, and Samoa Orange.

The vehicle's side profile incorporates fashionable elements, featuring distinctly sporty wheel rims for a more dynamic appearance. However, I believe equipping it with contemporary concealed door handles would better align with the electric pickup's positioning and possibly generate more discussion. Nevertheless, the absence of this feature might stem from practical considerations. Additionally, the new model comes equipped with foot pedals and a luggage rack.

The rear design adopts a conventional approach, departing from the refined front-end style and embracing a traditional, robust look consistent with the practical focus of the pickup. The tailgate features the "CHANGAN" emblem, spelled out in Pinyin, aligning with the utilitarian essence of the vehicle.

Entering the cabin, it's hard to imagine this as a pickup. The overall layout boasts a simple, stylish design with a strong home-like atmosphere. Equipped with dual screens, a flat-bottomed three-spoke multifunction steering wheel, and a full-width air vent, the interior exudes a sense of modernity. However, the inclusion of a column-mounted shifter in the Changan Hunter seems somewhat illogical, elevating the tech ambiance to new heights.

The Changan Hunter features a dual-screen design, with the main high-definition central touchscreen measuring 12.3 inches. This central display incorporates functions such as vehicle connectivity, navigation, and voice control. Additionally, popular applications like Kugou Music and Himalaya are also pre-installed as convenient mini-programs.

The seats are upholstered in beige synthetic leather, providing excellent support. The driver's seat features 6-way power adjustment, while the passenger seat has 4-way power adjustment. Both seats offer heating functionality. The rear seats have relatively upright backrests, but the cushions can be folded against them, revealing two small storage compartments.

Why does Changan launch such a range extender pickup truck?

Changan introduced the range-extended pickup with the belief that super range-extended power might be the optimal solution for the new energy technology route in pickups. According to Chen Weijie, General Manager of Changan Kaicheng and CEO of Changan Pickup Brand Business Unit, pickup users have diverse usage scenarios, unlike many city dwellers who have relatively fixed commuting routes with convenient charging facilities.

Pickups often traverse both urban and rural areas, posing inevitable challenges such as range anxiety, terrain adaptability, and recharging convenience. Range-extenders offer driving experiences similar to pure electric vehicles while providing convenient recharging solutions, making them the optimal choice. With diesel becoming obsolete in the future, user demands are shifting towards new energy technologies, particularly with range-extended solutions effectively addressing user pain points.

Regarding the use of the 2.0T Blue Whale powerplant as a range extender, Chen Weijie stated: "Pickups often require sustained uphill climbs, and with our setup, we achieve rapid recharging. The charging power in feed-in mode is also at the forefront of the industry." He conducted a personal experiment, driving uphill continuously in feed-in mode, noting that the battery level remained stable, with the engine rapidly recharging. This aligns well with the needs of pickup truck users.

Changan not only offers range-extended pickups but also has an all-electric product, the Changan Explorer EV, priced at 279,900 yuan. Positioned as a pure electric pickup, it features a rear single motor with a maximum output power of 130 kW and peak torque of 350 Nm. Equipped with a 65.17 kWh lithium iron phosphate battery, the Explorer EV achieves a CLTC cycle pure electric range of 405 km.

(Author: Kevin Wong)

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