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2021 Imperium ET5

Unless you’ve been living under a Chevy big block for the past decade, you’ll know that automakers are going all in on the research, development, and production of electric vehicles.

And nowhere is this more prevalent than in China, a nation that accounts for one-third of all global EV sales. So it wasn’t a question of if, but when, a Chinese EV would jump the Pacific and be available to Canadian consumers.

If all goes according to plan, that milestone event could well be by the end of this year. Imperium Motors Canada has worked out a deal with Skyworth Motors in China to bring in that company’s all-electric SUV called the ET5.

I had the chance to be the first North American journalist to drive the ET5, and while it wasn’t a multi-day test, my time behind the wheel did provide some insights into this interesting vehicle.

For a number of years Imperium has been selling all-electric scooters, buses, mid-speed and low-speed vehicles throughout North America. The ET5 is the first passenger vehicle Imperium is bringing into Canada.

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My first impression of the ET5 as I pulled into a Langley parking lot to meet up with Imperium Motors Canada president Christian Dubois was that it didn’t stand out from the numerous smaller SUVs that were parked nearby.

In fact, on closer inspection it borrows quite a few styling cues from European and Japanese models, particularly in the front headlights (hello Acura and Volvo) and the front grille.

Given its provenance, I was expecting something a little more ‘Chinese,’ though to be honest I’m not sure what that means exactly. The only indicators that the ET5 is of Chinese origin are the Chinese characters on the 12.8-inch infotainment screen.

The model I drove was a pre-production version, and Dubois said the company is working on integrating Apple CarPlay and Android Auto to work with the ET5’s 4G network.

Other changes for the on-sale model include swapping out of the ‘Skywell’ badging on the steering wheel and rear taillight array for ‘Imperium’.

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