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Great Wall goes electric in China

Power on: It might be six years old, but Great Wall’s C30 sedan is set to get a new lease of life as the company’s first pure electric vehicle in China.

Electric powertrain shoehorned into Great Wall small sedan to test China EV market

Great Wall logo22 Jun 2016

By RON HAMMERTON

CHINA’S Great Wall Motors plans to launch its first pure-electric vehicle in China before the end of this year in what is seen as a toe-in-the-water exercise to test both the technology and the market before it jumps deeper into the plug-in race.

The C30EV has been developed exclusively for the Chinese domestic market and so will not be headed to Australia, where plug-in petrol-electric hybrid powertrains will lead the company’s electrification charge in SUVs sold by Great Wall subsidiary Haval Motors, perhaps as early as next year.

Based on the Great Wall C30 small sedan that was called Voleex when it launched six years ago, the C30EV replaces the 78kW/138Nm 1.5-litre petrol engine with a lithium nickel manganese cobalt oxide battery and electric motor producing 240Nm of torque.

Driving range is said to be 245km, while acceleration from zero to 100km/h takes a steady 10 seconds. At 100km/h, highway cruising range is 200km.

A full battery charge takes 10 hours from a household power point, but a high-amp rapid charger can fill the battery to 80 per cent charge in 45 minutes.

The company sees electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles as a vital next step to meet tougher rules at home and abroad, not just for Great Wall-badged vehicles but also its Haval SUVs.

China’s central government has mandated new fuel consumption restrictions for passenger vehicles sold in China, chopping the required average from 6.7 litres per 100km this year to 5.0L/100km by 2020.

As Great Wall told the Shanghai stock exchange recently: “If we fail to meet such standards, we will face penalty and the application and expansion of our new products will be affected.”

In addition to the fuel consumption restrictions, China’s big cities such as Beijing and Shanghai are introducing their own measures to restrict the number of fossil fuel vehicle registrations and encourage EVs within city limits to cut air pollution.

Sales of electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles in China jumped 128 per cent last month, to 35,000 vehicles, with pure EVs leading the charge at 26,000 sales.

Haval chairman Wei Jianjun said his company could only remain at the forefront of vehicle engineering by embracing scientific innovation and mastering core technologies.

“We will improve the competitiveness of our products by developing our core technologies. Technological innovation is the only way for Haval to realise its global dream.”

Despite Great Wall’s apparent enthusiasm for EVs – including a $2 billion investment in a massive engineering and design centre and proving ground near its headquarters in Baoding – it does not envisage any quick improvement in electric powertrain performance.

In its April stock market statement, Great Wall said: “It is expected that the technology of pure electric vehicles will not have a breakthrough in a short period of time.”

It also revealed that the cost of the battery accounts for about 50 per cent or more of the total production cost of EVs.

In line with the investment in plug-in hybrid and pure electric powertrains, Haval has decided it will not pursue diesel engines in Australia or anywhere else.

The first plug-in powertrain in the Haval line-up is expected to be in the mid-sized H7 that was revealed in its production form at this year’s Beijing motor show in April.

As GoAuto reported last week, Haval’s plug-in powertrain combines a 118kW/284Nm turbo petrol engine and a 95kW/278Nm electric motor driving the front wheels through a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission.

In Australia, Great Wall distribution has been in limbo for the past 18 months but is now on track for a comeback about October via the new Steed ute.

Great Wall distribution had been handled by Ateco Automotive until a disagreement with the Chinese company stalled proceedings in 2014.

Now, the import rights have been transferred to a factory owned entity, Great Wall Motors Australia, that will work alongside Haval Motors Australia out of a base in Melbourne.

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