These cheap, Chinese mini vehicles are just too hard to resist. Yeah, there is not much you can do with them in the US. But what can you do with baseball cards or VHS tape player? Not much! But you can drive around, albeit at a maximum of 25 mph, in your Alibaba Mini Jeep.
And the folks at Electrek found someone who actually bought one. If you’re gun shy about plopping down over a grand without anything to show for it, don’t worry. This is all legit and here is how one person did it just to prove it.
Some assembly of the Mini Jeep is required but you’ve got this
Electrek found Kyle Day, who was looking for a customs broker to help out. First, keep in mind that there is some assembly required. Just like with Ikea furniture and your baby’s playpen, you’ll have to do a bit of wrenching. But it is basic bolt-on stuff, nothing MotorBiscuit readers can’t handle.
Downloading the Alibaba app helps with communication. It converts anything in Chinese to English for you, and vice-versa for the contacts in China. Once you’ve got it you can choose from a menu of options for your Mini Jeep, or other vehicles sold on Alibaba’s site. Usually, the options are fairly cheap relative to the overall price.
In the case of this Mini Jeep purchase, the price of the vehicle came out to $1,590. There is a $200 “sample fee” that gets waived if you buy in quantities. So you’ll save if you want a fleet of Mini Jeeps. The shipping was $180. The grand total was slightly under $2,000.
For $2,030 the Mini Jeep got shipped via ocean carrier to the nearest port
Using Apple Pay gives you fraud and chargeback coverage and adds an additional $60. So for $2,030 the Mini Jeep gets shipped via ocean carrier to your nearest port. You’ll be notified at every stage of the shipping, which usually takes 15 days to complete. A bill of lading gives you the details of your order and when and where to pick it up at the port.
Once it is US-bound you can track your purchase through updates on several websites. Once it gets to the port, that is when and where customs, tariffs, and miscellaneous fees enter the picture. The big bite is the 25 percent tariff-thanks Trump!
You’ll want a customs broker to handle forms and general processes getting it shipped
With a customs broker, most of the forms and general processes are handled by them. You’ll fill out some paperwork, pay your fees, and then wait some more. You’re notified when your vehicle arrives at the deconsolidation warehouse. The broken-down vehicle is loaded into your pickup or van, and you’re on your way.
But first, you must assemble it. In Kyle’s case, it was not strictly a bolt-together deal. Some adjustments were needed. A couple of mounts had to be cut out with a cut-off wheel and rewelded in better locations. And one wheel was bent, which he got replaced. In the short term, he ground the wheel where it made contact with the brake.
If you encounter problems like this and can’t weld there are local welders that can do it for reasonable prices. There are even traveling welders that will come to your home or shop. So while it is disappointing, it isn’t the end of the world. Nor will it cost a bunch to take care of any welding problems.
A lot of “extras” are standard with the Alibaba Mini Jeep
Included with the Mini Jeep were a horn, speedometer, battery charge indicator, blinker and brake lights, headlights, a D/N/R switch, and a fast/slow speed selector. With the optional lithium-ion battery he figures he gets about 10 miles between charges. The range is supposed to be close to 50 miles, so there is something off in the range department. The Mini Jeep is mostly used by his kids when camping.
Yes, the “$1,280 Mini Jeep” took more than that to actually get here, and it needed some massaging to get it all together. But based on his comments he seems happy with the purchase. Plus, he and his family do have fun with it. Two adults can be accommodated if it is for you and not your kids.
There are other interesting vehicles on the cheap available via China. While not the most practical they look like they would be a lot of fun.