Don’t check your calendar — it is indeed just past Thanksgiving and not March 32nd. That vehicle above this text is real and if all goes well, you could buy one in 2025. The HW Electro Puzzle is a Kei-sized electric commercial van designed to help you survive disasters all with a face that will make your heart melt. Let’s take a look.
Kei cars, or Keijidōsha, are the smallest class of cars allowed on Japanese roadways. These vehicles have size and engine restrictions. In exchange for dealing with diminutive size and power, owners of these vehicles benefit from tax and insurance benefits. If you want a Kei car in America, most of the time you’ll have to wait until the one you want is 25 years old. You can get newer ones, but those will be low-speed vehicles not legal for highway use. Japan’s HW Electro has not stated what its Puzzle EV van will be classified as in America, but I could see it as a low-speed delivery vehicle.
HW Electro was founded in 2019 in Japan with a mission statement of “We manufacture and sell electric vehicles (mainly light commercial vehicles) that will lead the way in the future, with an excellent concept that takes economic efficiency and environmental issues into account.”
The young company says it is the first company in Japan to obtain a license plate number for imported electric light commercial vehicles, and as of 2019, the company says it is one of three selling electric light commercial vehicles in Japan.
HW Electro is led by CEO Xiao Weicheng, who believes the switch to EVs has taken too long for commercial vehicles. Weicheng believes the best plan forward is to get light electric commercial vehicles on the road as soon as possible. HW Electro entered the Japanese market with the Elemo, a tiny electric cabover cube truck.
That little guy is targeted at businesses needing to navigate urban environments, neighborhoods, and farm roads. The Elemo is built in Hangzhou, China, which seems to explain the previous claim about getting a plate number for an imported electric light commercial vehicle.
HW Electro has also filed for an IPO with the Securities and Exchange Commission. It’s seeking to raise $17.25 million with it. In the filing, the company says that in fiscal years 2022 and 2023, it delivered 66 and 16 electric light commercial vehicles to 15 and 11 customers, respectively. So, the company is building and selling vehicles, albeit not a ton of them at a time.
HW Electro Puzzle
So, what are we getting here in 2025? The Puzzle concept was first shown during the 2023 Japan Mobility Show before it was unveiled again to press in New York. Weicheng says this about the Puzzle:
“The PUZZLE launch marks HW ELECTRO’s dedication to addressing environmental challenges and creating innovative eco-friendly solutions to the commercial vehicle market. We are excited to officially showcase PUZZLE today and we look forward to making it available in the U.S. market in 2025.”
The Puzzle is an all-electric commercial van measuring 11.13 feet long, 4.83 feet wide, and 6.3 feet tall. It rides on cute 15-inch wheels and rides on a 97.63-inch wheelbase. Like any good delivery van, the driver can access their cargo from the sides or from the rear, and the van has a 770-pound payload. Also like many Japanese vehicles, it’s built to help you survive a disaster. This means the van has external AC outlets, USB ports, Wi-Fi internet, some emergency tools, a crowbar, and a first aid kit. It’s basically a rolling power station! Speaking of power, the van’s roof is also covered in photovoltaic panels to help extend the battery’s life.
The design, while cute, is also functional. HW Electro says the friendly body will help the company cut down on tooling and costs. Multiple parts of the body also use the same panels, further simplifying manufacturing.
The interior of the van is pretty minimalist. There are a couple of displays, but they aren’t huge. They are accompanied by a handful of buttons, outlets to plug in gadgets, and a fold-flat passenger seat.
If you didn’t notice, the interior panels have what seems to be pegboard surfaces so you can hang accessories. My favorite part about the interior is the shifter. It almost looks like a glossy reimagining of a Hurst shifter. I dig it.
Weirdly, while HW Electro has released no information about the battery, the motor, the range, or literally anything else, it did release a companion app. This app allows a Puzzle owner to monitor their vehicle’s vitals, location, and other statistics. HW Electro envisions a future where owners will use an app for routing, dispatch, vending, and calling for emergency services.
We’ll be watching this one as 2025 nears. If the Puzzle ends up as a low-speed vehicle, it probably won’t be super useful outside of a city. On the other hand, this does seem like the perfect little van for local deliveries. Either way, it’s as cute as a button and I just want to give it a hug.
(Images: HW Electro)
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