A number of new electric car models come onto the scene each month in China. Below are 8 of the interesting fully electric and plug-in hybrid models that have arrived recently.
Fully Electric Vehicles
BAIC had the #1 selling electric car in China in 2017, the BAIC EC series. Now, in 2018, it aims to introduce more cars into its lineup. The BAIC EX360 has been officially listed and it is another refresh — it keeps the styling and design of the BAIC EX260 but offers more options to buyers.
As with many Chinese electric cars, the EX360 has blue trim to signify that it is electric. While its chassis was designed to be purely electric, the external design still has an oversized grill. Additionally, because this car has been designed for the “young and hip,” it has been designed to be a small SUV with some sporty lines and chrome, which is the present prevailing fashion in car design.
The inside of the EX360 is somewhat better, a more modern design but with many buttons for those who find the analogue switch better than a touchscreen. It even has an analogue clock in between the vents. The dash has a large imitation wood trim panel, which honestly encapsulates the design philosophy: How to look stylish while not being stylish.
The EX360 is essentially an updated model for this year and we get some not too shabby improvements, so we think that is better than leaving years between new models and new capabilities. The BAIC EX360 electric motor has a maximum power of 80 kW and the car has a maximum speed of 125 km/h (77 mph). Its purported range under highway conditions is 318 km (197 miles), or 390 km (223 miles) if driven at 60 km/h (37 mph), which in some cities might be good due to traffic jams. Fast charging allows the EX360 to get to 80% charge in 30 minutes.
Chery Tiggo 3xe
Chery has officially launched the Tiggo 3xe, which is a small electric SUV, with two different versions released. The Tiggo 3xe, like many electric cars, is based on an internal-combustion-engine (ICE) version of the car with a few minor cosmetic changes to the appearance.
The exterior of the Tiggo 3xe has a few blue highlights that indicate its electric vehicle credentials, which is a running trend in China’s electric vehicle market. The grill has been replaced by a matrix design that’s flanked by the headlights. The small size of the vehicle means that the passenger compartment looks somewhat small from the outside.
The interior of the Tiggo 3xe has a simple layout which is a mix of blue and black, which has definitely been chosen to appeal to a younger audience in China — a trend I have seen in marketing materials in China. The asymmetrical design of the dashboard looks odd, but nothing terrible. The central console is small and looks similar to many recent cars in China, a standard design.
The electric powertrain of the Tiggo 3ex has a 90 kW electric motor and that creates 286 Nm of torque. The Tiggo 3ex has a lithium-ion battery pack with a capacity of 49 kWh, which allows for a reported range of 351 km (218 miles).
On March 26th, the Denza 500 was officially listed. The Denza 500 is a redesign of the Denza 400, which drops some of the original styling choices from Mercedes-Benz and, as the name implies, has a longer range. Denza is 50/50 joint venture between Mercedes-Benz and BYD, which was formed to create pure electric cars. The cost of the car before subsidies should be 299,800–329,800 yuan ($47,000–52,000). The car has been upgraded significantly compared to the older Denza 400. The Denza 400 had a 62 kWh battery pack that allowed for a range of 400 km (~250 miles). The Denza 500 improves on this with a 70 kWh battery pack that allows for a reported 500 km range (~310 miles).
The updated design can be seen in the Denza’s front “grill,” which has dropped the grill design for a closed smooth panel between the LED headlights. The rear of the car has had little change — some additional chrome and the brake lights have been updated, but nothing radical.
The updated design is less noticeable inside with some minor changes to the central control panel. The car is equipped with a 9 inch control display, LCD dashboard, and steering wheel that allows for multiple controls, etc.
Style- and technology-wise, this seems middle of the road compared what I would expect from a Mercedes-Benz joint venture. Although, the BYD lithium-iron-phosphate battery pack allows for a more energy dense package and good range for the size of car. Hopefully the next Denza offering is more stylish/modern and less of a refresh.
Geely Emgrand EV450
The newest entry in the Geely Emgrand EV series, the EV450, was officially launched on the 29th of Aril 2018. The Geely Emgrand EV 450 is based on an internal combustion engine car, the Emgrand EC-7, which impacts its styling and electric car capabilities.
The EV 450’s exterior styling is based on the internal combustion engine EC-7 styling, with the standard change to the grill into a closed area with the Geely logo and camera flanked by some small headlights.
Interior styling of the EV450 has been updated from the EV300, with a more natural look of curves and lighter interior. The central console, digital instrument display, and electronic parking system is standard for this class and price of car.
The car has a claimed range of 400km (248 miles), which is an improvement over the EV300, which had a claimed range of 300 km (186 miles).
The cost of the EV450 in China will be deeply impacted by subsides, because the national, regional, and city governments each have incentives. It could cost between 140,000 Rmb ($22,000) to 170,000 Rmb ($26,700), which seems quite affordable.
π3 from Yundu is the second car in the company’s lineup. Yundu (Yudo Auto) is a Chinese joint venture that has been developing its platform since 2015 when it was founded. The π3 was developed and designed in Europe by it Milan design centre.
The exterior of the π3 is dominated by its large X-shaped plastic-looking grill, with a number of indents that make it look odd and somewhat cheap. This is flanked by the LED headlights. The second big choice is the three-colour blue–black–grey design, which is eye-catching in the worst way possible. The design choices scream modern, stylish, and fast, but they fail to hit the mark.
The interior of the π3 is better. The symmetry of the dashboard is refreshing, the colour scheme is simple and satisfying. The central console is not sunk into the dashboard but stands out. Additionally, the instrument cluster is not in front of the wheel but placed above the central console, which gives the interior symmetry but could impact driving awareness.
The electric powertrain of the π3 is equipped with a 38.5 kWh ternary lithium battery that provides a range of 251 km (155 miles) in normal driving conditions. The electric motor in the π3 is a 90 kW motor with peak torque of 280 Nm.
BMW Brilliance 530e plug-in hybrid
In March, the BMW Brilliance 530e plug-in hybrid joined the market. The car is based on the 5 Series and comes in at a price of 530,000 Rmb ($83,260) to 698,600 Rmb ($109,746).
The external design is based on the 5 series and is based around the design requirements of the internal combustion engine. This means the snout-looking grille and LED headlights are intact from the BWM 5 Series without any modifications. The main noticeable difference is the charging port door that is visible near the front doors.
The powertrain of the BMW Brilliance 530e plug-in hybrid is centred around the 2.0L turbocharged engine and electric motor. The pure electric range is 61 km (37 miles) and the total range is 643 km (400 miles) using the engine.
Ford Mondeo plug-in hybrid
The Ford Mondeo is a well known model around the world. On the 27th of March, 2018, the joint venture Changan Ford launched a Mondeo plug-in hybrid. The new Ford Mondeo is a mirror of the internal combustion engine Ford Mondeo. It has the mesh grille and the same face and LED headlight clusters that create its familiar face. Inside the Mondeo, the design is consistent, with black plastic and silver plastic trim. The central console is spartan by design. The overall design seems simple.
The hybrid power train for this plug-in hybrid Mondeo consists of a 2.0 liter engine paired with an electric motor and a lithium-ion 1.4-kilowatt-hour battery. The Mondeo has a pure electric driving range of 52 km. Combined with the petrol engine, the range is 981 km.
This Ford Mondeo is more of an evolution of the Ford Mondeo, as Ford has already had a traditional hybrid version of the Mondeo and the plug-in hybrid is just the next logical step. Although, I would prefer to see Ford design a pure-electric Ford Mondeo.
MG6 Plug-in Hybrid
Another evolution is the MG6. The flagship of MG was launched last November, but on March 28th, 2018, it was upgraded with a hybrid drivetrain. The MG6 is seeing about 8,000 sales per month in 2018, and it is reported to be SAIC’s best selling passenger car. The MG6 will be equipped with SAIC’s plug-in hybrid system, named “Green core.”
The MG6 plug-in hybrid appearance is the same as the ICE version — the large lattice grille and headlamp groups give it a interesting open-mouth manta ray look. The overall external shape follows the design styling of modern sedans to create a smooth, fast looking shape while constrained by sedan size.
The interior is stylish and conservative, using a pure black colour scheme. The central console screen is nice and large, with a few simple buttons under the main panel that does make it look smarter and cleaner.
The features in the car are good for the market segment — the 12 inch LCD virtual instrument panel, the central console, the active driving assistance system “MG Pilot,” the automatic parking system. These all allow it to compete in the modern sedan market segment.
Companies in China are bringing about a slate of interesting and affordable hybrids and EVs which will be added to as the year progresses. Many new cars and models are in the pipeline for this year and the coming years. I just hope I can keep up with the new releases. That is just personnel passenger vehicles, because electric buses and electric logistics vehicles and trucks are also growing in China. Stay tuned for more news.
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