What it's like to buy a $900 electric car from Alibaba

On Jalopnik my friend Jason Torchinsky is writing about his experience ordering a $900 electric car from China using Alibaba. It has been an incredibly long and complicated process, involving lots of red tape. Including extra charges and document filing fees the price of the car is now close to $3500. Nevertheless, it's a really cool looking a little electric car. Read the rest

"I bought the cheapest new car in the world" for $930 on Alibaba

Jalopnik's Jason Torchinsky bought his first new car on Alibaba. He paid $930 for the electric Changli NEMECA, batteries not included. The batteries, likely lead-acid, were an additional $350. Then came all the fees to bring the car from China to the USA and get it through customs. The final total for the car is closer to $3,300 which is still less expensive than the comparison vehicle: a golf cart. From Jalopnik:

What’s frustrating and amazing about all of this is just how difficult it is to find any accurate information about the total cost of shipping something like this from China to America. There’s more information out there for “real” cars, which, legally, the Changli is not, at least in America.

Even though for many elderly rural Chinese people this car—and many other ones very much like it—are absolutely used like real, usable cars, the truth is it’s far closer to a golf cart. It’s only got a 1.1 hp (possibly 1.6? I’ll try to dyno it when it arrives) motor and is much smaller and lighter than even the smallest and lightest of cars you can imagine.

It’s about 800 pounds, about half the weight of my Nissan Pao, which is about half the weight of almost everything else out there. It’s small.

In fact, on official documentation, it’s described, bafflingly, [as a four-wheel electric tricycle.]

Yes, a four-wheel electric tricycle. You know, like a biped with a third leg, or a five-legged quadrupedal dog.

"This Is How Much Buying The Cheapest New Car In The World Really Costs" (Jalopnik) Read the rest

Foreigners visiting China are increasingly stumped by its cashless society

Technically, it's illegal for Chinese merchants to refuse payment in cash, but this rule is hardly ever enforced, and China has been sprinting to a cashless society that requires mobile devices -- not credit-cards -- to effect payments, even to street hawkers. Read the rest

Alibaba developed Chinese Communist Party propaganda app that became China Apple Store hit: Report

The smash hit Chinese government propaganda app Xuexi Qiangguo, which translates to 'Study to make China strong', was developed by the technology firm Alibaba, reports Reuters today. Read the rest

China's pervasive "social credit" scheme is still in development, but already profoundly shaping public behavior

Since its first stirrings in 2015, the Chinese social credit schemes have sprouted a confusing and frightening garden of strange growths, from spraying and shaming jaywalkers to blacklisting millions from flying or using high-speed rail, including journalists and other critics of the Chinese state. Read the rest

The predictable dystopian trajectory of China's Citizen Scores

China's Citizen Score system combines surveillance of your social media and social graph with your credit report, your purchase history and state spy agencies and police files on you to produce a "trustworthiness" score -- people who score low are denied access to high-speed travel, financial products, and other services like private school for their kids. Read the rest

Chinese surveillance/tech giant Alibaba joins ALEC, will start co-authoring US legislation

The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is a big-business think-tank that authors "model legislation" at the local, state and national level that benefits corporations at the expense of everyday people; their greatest hits make for scary reading -- you can thank ALEC for ag-gag laws, stand-your-ground laws, private prisons, bans on municipal ISPs, killing Obamacare and jailing pipeline protesters. Read the rest

In-depth investigation of the Alibaba-to-Instagram pipeline for scammy crapgadgets with excellent branding

Artist Jenny Odell created the Bureau of Suspended Objects to photographically archive and researched the manufacturing origins of 200 objects found at a San Francisco city dump; last August, she prepared a special report for Oakland's Museum of Capitalism about the bizarre world of shitty "free" watches sold through Instagram influences and heavily promoted through bottom-feeding remnant ad-buys, uncovering a twilight zone of copypasted imagery and promotional materials livened with fake stories about mysterious founders and branded tales. Read the rest

In China's once poverty-stricken villages, former peasants manufacture a single product for one retailer

Alibaba subsidiary Taobao has given rise to "Taobao Villages" -- 18 villages that were once among China's poorest places, where former peasant farmers have attained prosperity by working in factories that produce a single class of goods (for example, Daiji township, a remote town in Shandong where most working age people have moved away, is now a high-speed-fiber linked booming factory town dedicated to "acting and dance costumes"). Read the rest