Chinese Ora Cat 01 electric car going global

Great Wall Motor’s dedicated electric car brand Ora (Euler in China) will launch the Cat 01 small retro-style EV hatch in the UK in early 2022.

While the company’s Australian factory distributor is not yet confirming exactly when the right-hand drive budget EV will subsequently make it here, it acknowledges the Ora Cat is “very much on the GWM Au roadmap”.

Our understanding of things says you should see the Ora Cat 01 as soon as next year across GWM’s still-growing dealer network – presumably sold alongside the GWM Ute and Haval SUVs, though the precise retail strategy is not yet confirmed.

The two top-selling electric cars in Australia are already made in China – Tesla Model 3 and MG ZS EV – and 2022 will see the introduction of the BYD Yuan Plus EV crossover. BYD is backed by Warren Buffett and imported by Australian company Nexport.

MORE: MG ZS EV extends lead over cheapest electric car rivals

The Ora brand was established in 2018, as one of a bewildering spread of Great Wall Motor sub brands: GWM Utes, Haval SUVs, Wey premium crossovers (named for owner and chairman Jack Wey), Tank luxury 4x4s, and Ora EVs.

It makes numerous products with names that don’t really translate all that well (Good Cat, Lightning Cat, Punk Cat), but the UK press indicates their market’s models will simply use more palatable ‘Ora Cat 01’ branding. Presumably the Cat 02, Cat 03 etc. could follow.

“ORA 01CAT [stylisation retained] is a perfect combination of classic retro aesthetics and futuristic technology, which will bring unprecedented product experience to European users,” GWM said at the Munich Motor Show last month.

China-market specs for the Ora Good Cat (the domestic name for the Ora Cat 01), which kicks off after Chinese subsidies at 103,900 yuan ($A21,400) and tops out at 160,900 yuan ($A33,400) are thus:

It’s 4235mm long on a 2650mm wheelbase, about bang-on the same dimensions as a Volkswagen Golf 8, and weighs a fairly light 1555kg. It also sits on a bespoke electric-only architecture and uses MacPherson strut/torsion beam suspension.

The domestic market car’s spec sheet shows numerous liquid-cooled lithium iron phosphate and ternary lithium batteries, with energy content between 48kWh and 59kWh and (generous) NEDC driving ranges of between 401km and 501km (WLTP figures are generally lower).

The front drive motor in the base cars outputs 105kW and 210Nm, bumped up to 126kW and 250Nm in higher-end versions which cuts the claimed 0-100km/h time to 6.9 seconds.

It’s loaded with tech, too. It runs the latest Mobileye chips that process driving camera information at a speed of 36 frames per second, and runs the set of current Level 2 driver-assist features (lane-keeping aids, blind-spot assistance etc).

The interior genuinely looks great, with 17.25-inch dual screens, over-the-air updates, and what look like some premium material choices.

Bigger picture, Great Wall has a 50:50 partnership with BMW in China and the two car-makers are building a plant to make electric variants of BMW’s Mini brand and Great Walls from 2023.

Great Wall also claims to have invested more than RMB 500 million ($A104m) in the R&D of cobalt-free lithium batteries. More than 1200 R&D personnel and 120 materials and battery experts have, it says, conducted more than 200 pilot tests and more than 3000 electrical performance verifications.

A story from the South China Morning Post from (granted) nearly two years ago gives valuable insights in to GWM’s rationale here.

“Unable to compete with premium brands like Tesla, Chinese carmakers are vying for a growing share of the market for small electric vehicles, if they can make their products affordable,” said Qian Kang, a Zhejiang-based entrepreneur in the car component business.

GWM Australia is the country’s fastest growing brand, and we’re now the company’s number-one export market.

In early 2022 it’ll launch the Haval H6 hybrid to tackle Toyota’s ubiquitous RAV4 but with segment-leading power and torque, and following this the Haval Big Dog and Tank 300 SUVs are highly likely – demo cars are already in Melbourne.

MORE: China’s GWM plans for Big Dog, Tank 300, Ora EVs, has bold 2021 target
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MORE: Australia becomes top export market for GWM Haval

Below you will find a list of useful information regarding everything you need to know about electric cars.

  • Australian electric vehicle launch calendar
  • Vehicle Emissions targets explained, Q&A with FCAI chief Tony Weber
  • Australia-wide EV policy needed to avoid ‘chaos’, says FCAI
  • NSW electric-vehicle stimulus package
  • Victoria commits to electric car subsidies, 2030 sales target
  • Victoria’s ‘worst EV policy in the world’ slammed
  • Northern Territory commits to electric car incentives
  • Australian industry keeps calling for new government CO2 targets
  • ACT moving public-servant fleet to EVs, will slash running costs
  • How Australia’s federal opposition proposes to slash EV prices
  • Q&A with JET Charge founder Tim Washington