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Shanghai show: MG joins EV race

MG set to launch pure-electric eZS small SUV in Australia inside 12 months

16 Apr 2019


CHINA’S unparalleled push for electric vehicles has spilled over to exports with MG Motor Australia this week confirming a pure-electric version of its ZS small SUV for local launch within 12 months.


MG, a brand of China’s biggest vehicle manufacturer SAIC, said it expected the battery-powered ZS – called the eZS in China – will go on sale in the UK in September this year, with Australian compliance expected to push launch timing here out to early 2020.


The new full-electric model, one of four EVs made by SAIC under the MG and Roewe labels, was first revealed at the Guangzhou motor show last November and may be available in New Zealand before the end of this year as its design rules are more closely aligned with the UK.


In an interview with GoAuto on the eve of the Shanghai motor show this week, MG Motor product planner Joseph Ye said the eZS would have a price premium over the conventional petrol-engined ZS of about 20 per cent.


That would make the ZS EV the cheapest EV on the Australian market, estimated to be priced at about $29,000 plus on-road costs based on the top-spec ZS Essence combustion-engined version in Australia at $23,990.


The Essence uses an 82kW/160Nm 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol engine, while at the entry level the $20,990 Soul variant uses an 84kW/150Nm 1.5-litre four-cylinder.


The eZS has a single electric motor producing 110kW/350Nm and driving the front wheels through a Prius-type multiplex automatic transmission that combines the features of a conventional torque converter with a CVT system.


The EV has a NEDC range of 335km – the WTLP cycle is now being assessed – because of its high-output 44.5kWh battery. It will be sold with a home charger that can fill a depleted battery within about eight hours, however Mr Ye said a fast charger would deliver 80 per cent charge in 40 minutes.


The eZS is expected to come with a comprehensive safety kit including autonomous emergency braking, lane-change detection, 360-degree camera and seven airbags.


Asked if other MG-badged models were being considered as EVs, Mr Ye said it was possible.


“In the right-hand-drive segment, the ZS is the only suitable vehicle that was being made both with electric and petrol powerplants,” he said.


However, SAIC is working on other models, including the larger MG HS – a five-seat SUV bigger than the ZS – as a left-hand-drive vehicle with a hybrid engine and the potential of a full-electric powertrain.


“The only RHD model produced by SAIC with electric power is the MG ZS,” Mr Ye said.


“But we are still looking at the right-hand-drive possibilities because we see the markets in the UK, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Thailand as being important.”


SAIC even has a Thai factory which has the potential to be the source of vehicles for Australia.


“The Roewe Marvel X is only for left-hand drive and there are no plans to make it as a RHD,” he said.


The Marvel X, which is a large, highly-equipped five-seat SUV positioned towards the prestige segment, has been on sale in China for the past six months. It, too, has a full-electric powertrain and is available in both all-wheel drive and front-wheel drive.


The SUV is based on the 2015 SAIC concept under the Roewe badge called the Vision R. The Marvel X has now become the flagship of the Roewe brand.


Roewe is the rebadged and repositioned Rover marque that was bought by SAIC in 2005.

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