The electric elephant in the room

Apart from an energy crisis and high taxes added by government, the most contentious issue with electric vehicles remains the price. Enter GWM, the manufacturer has entered the EV market with the ORA, a product that is rather elite.

By Juliet McGuire

Let’s talk about the elephant in the room when it comes to electric vehicles (EVs). It is not the fact that South Africa is currently experiencing an energy crisis, or that we might not have the infrastructure for a future that is fast becoming present day. No, the big topic we need to address is the price of EVs. As much as we can understand that government adds on a massive tax and that the ORA pegs itself as SA’s ‘cheapest’ EV. But with a price tag kicking off at R689 950, it is still not exactly what most would consider budget friendly. Even though it will undercut the Mini Cooper SE Hatch three-door, which sits closer to R800 000.

The ORA will be available in four derivatives, ranging from the ORA 300 Super Luxury to the ORA 400 GT Ultra Luxury. All models have power outputs of 126 kW and 250 Nm thanks to the electric motor and either a 48 kWh or a 63 kWh battery. The latter has the better claimed range of around 400 km. This is something that has plagued the Mini, its range sits around 250 km, if you’re lucky, which means it really is only good for city commuting. And best you have a home charging setup.

The interior is where all the fun begins. It looks plush and upmarket…not to mention being vegan! This EV comes with all the bells and whistles, from a 10.25-inch touchscreen infotainment system and digital instrument cluster combo to a wireless charging pad, climate control and selectable driving modes.

This car is considered semi-autonomous thanks to the array of safety features on offer. Think Intelligent Speed Assist, Traffic-Sign Recognition, Traffic Jam Assist, Auto Emergency Braking, Land-Keeping Assist, Rear Cross-Traffic Assist and Front-Collision Warning. This is just naming a few. There are many, many more safety features that have ensured it achieved a 5-star Euro NCAP safety rating.

The ORA is a step in the right direction if we want to become a country that plays the EV game. If you charge the ORA using a DC charger you will be able to get from 0-80% in less than an hour. Mini might want to keep an eye on this ORA because it is certainly here to make a statement. And who would have thought it, coming from a brand that is best known for its bakkies.

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