HomeOpinionMotoring: GWM joins electronic revolution

Motoring: GWM joins electronic revolution

By Andrew Muzamhindo

Ever imagined driving an electric GWM P Series in Gonarezhou Game Park? As the silent bakkie slices through the jungle, you will not miss that roar of a lion, the trumpeting of an elephant, snort of an antelope, chirp of a cricket, that screech of an eagle, bray of a zebra, scream of a vulture, chatter of a monkey, hoot of an owl, quail calls, who knows maybe you will hear the buzz of a mosquito and that lone fly as well.

You are bound to enjoy the sound of nature more in an Electric Vehicle (EV) than within a noisy V8 engine that pollutes and kills nature. That day is around the corner.

Remember, the first crude electric car was developed by the Scottish inventor Robert Anderson in the 1830s. But it is only in the last few years that the technology has been available at the kind of prices that is making EVs competitive.

Do not blink because we are going through the biggest motoring revolution since the first car was produced by Henry Ford in 1913. We have arrived at the tipping point where the sales of EVs is rivalling fossil fuel cars.

Sooner than later EVs will be cheaper than fossil fuel cars. GWM of China has aggressively entered the ring since 2016 with the C30. They have been testing and gathering information on markets and EVs using the C30 EV. They are now rolling out awesome products such as ORA models.

The market watched as GWM aggressively set up in Africa. What makes you think they will not repeat the same feat with electric cars?

Jaguar will be selling only EVs from 2025, Volvo from 2030, Lotus from 2028, GM from 2035, BMW from 2030s, Mercedes from 2030 and Ford from 2030. VW and Toyota say 70% of their vehicles will be electrified by 2030.

By 2035 China will only be selling EVs. Do you realize what this means to the world? China has about 20% of the world population and can easily influence world trends. They are now bringing down the prices of smartphones and cars just like that.

Like the Information technology growth in the 90s, the EV industry is already growing exponentially. Global sales of EVS grew by 43% in 2020 despite the fact that fossil fuel car sales went down mainly due to Covid-19. It is 5% of global car sales but we are now on the steep part of the S Curve. Predications are that by 2025 more than 25% of all car sales will be EVs.

The more we make something, the better we become at perfecting it, the more it becomes cheaper. Now you know why the Chinese caught up, they made more of most products, perfected them and made them cheaper. They have economies of scale. After all, most of these manufacturers trusted them with their technology and asked them to make gadgets and equipment on their behalf at ridiculously low prices. They are using those skills and tech to conquer each and every industry.

GWM is China’s largest SUV manufacturer.

Locally GWM is represented by Zimoco. GWM has been quite busy preparing to make a mark in the EV segment. They are BMWs preferred producer of the mini EV in China. They have gone on to make a Mini look-alike ORA EV. They will be selling close to a billion EVs by 2026. They have invested millions to support this strategy. They currently make about 100 000 fossil fuel cars per month which is about 135 cars a day in all their manufacturing plants.

Twenty years ago, if someone out there had told Jeremy Clarkson the voice of motoring in the world that EVs would dominate the motoring conversation and most of all the Chinese would have a huge say in it, he would have laughed his lungs out.

Clarkson test-drove General Motors’ now infamous EV120 years ago. It cost a billion dollars to develop but was considered a dud by GM, which crushed all but a handful of the 1 000 or so vehicles it produced. The EV1’s range was considered dreadful. It had a range of about 80km, considered by Clarkson as a waste of time. He did not even see the future then. He still is unconverted. He said he would never buy an EV, even up to today he hates them because they lack that grunt.

However, Quentin Wilson, one of Top Gear’s former presenters and car lover has been a converted electric car lover for years. He was one of the first journalists to drive GM’s $1b EV 1 in 1996, has personally owned Leafs, Zoes, Amperas, iMievs — and even a vintage 70s Enfield Electric — driven 70 000 miles in battery-only electric cars and campaigned with Boris Johnson for greater EV adoption. Wilson says he has no range anxiety with his latest electric car, a Tesla Model 3.   He says it will do almost 483 km on a single charge and accelerates from 0-60 in 3,1 seconds.

“It is supremely comfortable; it’s airy; it’s bright. It’s just a complete joy. And I would unequivocally say to you now that I would never ever go back,” Wilson declared.

Personally, I have reviewed hundreds of cars over the past 10 years. Wilson is an ardent activist of EVs. He has reviewed thousands of cars. He has been advocating for cheaper EVs that the ordinary market can afford. Who am I to argue with someone who knows the industry more than I do.  The Chinese seem to have taken such reviews to heart when coming up with EVs.

They are making cars that are cheaper than traditional manufacturers and with a longer mileage range. GWM has even gone further and made the EVs more deluxe than other manufacturers, after all they are the kings of manufacturing deluxe fossil fuel cars at a modest price. I still cannot get over how they came up with the Haval at such a price point with top class finishes. Now they have the tank that is on its way to Africa.

Their Wey luxurious brand is launching in Europe and will be in the Americas in 2023. They will trump traditional manufacturers on technology, luxury, price and range within the models.

My point is we can all be in the same room, see the same things, experience the same things but have different opinions. This is the case with electric cars. We are all reading, experiencing and feeling the developments in that industry.  We will remain with different opinions but there is no disputing that usage of fossil fuels will be stopped one day. Electric cars are coming. There is a need for us to be early adopters.

Our government needs to slowly start planning and installing the infrastructure today in stages.

One charging port in every town for starters. There is a need to support entrepreneurs who are hooked onto this dream and willing to invest in installing the infrastructure and business of EVs.

Let us quickly dissect some of the offerings that we might get one day from GWM, albeit it could be some years from now so we will get better versions then. Call it wishful thinking but it will happen in the next few years.

There is the GWMs ORA brand. Its vision is to become the world’s most popular EV brand, making vehicles running 100% electrically. Most electric vehicles evolved from hybrid cars. GWM is saying they are creating a new platform altogether for EVs. It will be based on their successful lemon platform.  ORA will lead with resource technologies, strict quality standards, personality, people-oriented design concepts, intelligent products and most of all they want to offer models that will evolve daily with the consumer needs so that they can enjoy a driving experience that is beyond expectations.

Suffice to say that they are looking at giving the market cars that go beyond functionality but cars that enhance your life.

They will give the market smart cars just like smart phones. They will become part of your life and enhance the quality of your life. Ora Cat will be available in Europe next month for US$34 000 equivalent.  It has the best mileage range and charging times in its category. It will give you 420 km compared to VWs ID.3 Puree’s 281km after fully charging. The Puree costs the same.

The mileage range is more than double that of Renault Zoe and Mazda MX30 which compete in this category and yet they are slightly more expensive. There is a Mini Cooper that looks like the ORA R1 which is less than US$10 000 in Europe.

GWMs EVs are premised on high value for money, large space, smarter, safer and are of high quality.

  • andrew@muzamhindo.com.

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