Here in the United States we’ve got Sandy Munro, a well-known engineer who does tear-downs and of popular vehicles and other products with his company Munro & Associates. In China, they’ve got Jungfung Xue who does the same. His breakdowns of Chinese electric vehicles in particular are amazing and worth seeking out.
Xue and his YouTube channel, “Drag Racing,” has comprehensive teardowns of interesting Chinese-market vehicles, that blend a Munro & Associates-type of analysis with kind of a Consumer Reports-level of thoroughness. I find this channel fascinating – China is the largest auto market, but it seems like we know so little about what goes on there. The magic of the internet has given us a glimpse of what other parts of the world are like.
Sidebar: Why the channel’s called “Drag Racing” when there don’t seem to be any references to motorsports or Ru Paul on it remains a mystery.
Xue tears into this small JAC EV, criticizing its poor bumper and crash protection. He said that the Chery eQ1, a city-oriented EV, “looked like a real car, but in fact, was made as well as an old steel scooter.” If there’s any bias in favor of Chinese vehicles on this channel, it’s extremely well hidden.
Chinese cars have gotten a bad rap by most western media for being low-quality, or reversed-engineered clones of cars from non-Chinese brands. Arguably, that isn’t completely undeserved, judging from what we’ve seen from many Chinese manufacturers in past years. But, if anyone could tell you what is cloned or, what isn’t, it would be Mr. Xue.
Yeah, he’s not standing underneath a Corolla. – Image: Drag Racing Channel (YouTube)
The Drag Racing channel does a thorough examination of the Geely Emgrand EV450, for example. This car is a complete EV and does not look similar to most vehicles on sale, but Xue insinuates that critical parts, of the vehicle, are very similar to the E130 (2002-2008) Toyota Corolla.
This Sylphy (Sentra) is brand new, but already Leaking fluids! – Image: Drag Racing Channel (YouTube)
Don’t forget, many brands sold in the U.S. are also very popular in China. Xue is unrelenting in his criticism! This Nissan Sylphy (Nissan Sentra) is torn to shreds in his critique. He criticizes the thin bumper beams, the sweating and leaking transmission lines (on a new car), and the poor driving and dynamic engagement. He’s also critical of the Cadillac’s XT5’s “confusing” chassis design, with beams and suspension members underneath all the car, organized in a way he feels is illogical.
On the other hand, he had plenty of positive things to say about the Volvo S60.
Each review is divided up into categories and scored accordingly. Firstly, there’s the test drive and initial perception of the vehicle, how it drives, handles, and how comfortable it is. Then, there’s the sections that delve into the disassembly. Safety and engineering is a huge part, with bumper beams being measured with a caliper to gauge thickness and coverage of the vehicle. Mr. Xue also scores the vehicle on chassis protection and rigidity. And lastly, a smell test, using an air quality detector, to check the interior for the presence of potentially harmful or unpleasant smells, namely formaldehyde. Those scores are averaged together at a 25/75 proportion, which gives a final number. It’s a little hard to figure out what the scores mean in context, but the Range Rover Velar had a final score of 69. By comparison, the JAC iEV6e only scored 43.
Drag Racing’s videos are long and very thorough. Xue does speak Mandarin but each video has English subtitles. I find Mr. Xue’s analysis of structure, and safety fascinating. It’s something that seems less prominent in western media these days, and I wouldn’t mind seeing more of it.