China NEV Weekly Episode 5: Bangle and the World Cup

 

Welcome to another episode of China NEV Weekly, with the latest New Energy Vehicles from China. This week with Chris Bangle, the World Cup, and a fake Picasso.

Weltmeister AG2020

Weltmeister is a new Chinese EV brand, owned by a company called WM Motors. Weltmeister is an odd name for a car maker, it means world champion, in German. The company launched in 2016, and became famous overnight because of a Photoshop scandal.

But the latest news is good: Weltmeister will show their first production car to the world on December 11. It will be an SUV with the catchy name AG2020. It will cost 200,000 yuan ($30,000) and have a range of 600 kilometers (373 miles.) If true, that would make it the longest-range available Chinese electric car.

The AG2020 comes with some new technology, including side windows that double as a screen. When the owner approaches the vehicle, he will be greeted with a welcome message, aalong with vital information such as the level of the batteries. The (fuzzy) photo shows the text “Hello Freeman”, referring to Freeman Shen, founder of Weltmeister. Funny name? His co-founder calls himself Napoleon.

NEVS 9-3 EV

The second generation Saab 9-3 has been recycled in China, and it returns as an electric car called the NEVS 9-3 EV. NEVS (National Electric Vehicle Sweden) is a Hong-Kong based company owned by the Chinese-Swedish businessman Kai Johan Jiang.

In 2015, NEVS purchased various assets from bankrupt Saab, including the tooling and intellectual property rights for the 9-3.  The company has set up a brand new factory in Tianjin, and will start selling the 9-3 EV in mid 2018.

The unveiling of the production car was a bit of a disappointment, because NEVS basically changed nothing about the car, inside and out. It is really just an old Saab with an 180 hp electric motor under the bonnet. NEVS says they aim mostly at car-sharing companies, and they also claim that they have bagged DiDi Chunxing as their first customer.

Changfeng CS9-EV

Changfeng Motor is one is of the oldest yet least known Chinese car makers. They were born in 1950 as a car-repair unit of the PLA. They enjoyed their best years in the late 1990’s with a popular series of license-build variants of the 1991 Mitsubishi Pajero. Sales went down when more modern cars entered the market.

In 2012 the company was slobbered up by the southern giant Guangzhou Auto, which forced old Changfeng to add some style to their lineup. Changfeng sexed up the old Pajero and added the almost trendy CS9 SUV, and later this month they will launch an EV version of that car, imaginatively called the CS9-EV.

The CS9-EV, sometimes referred to as the EV-9, is powered by a 122 hp electric motor, and it will have a range of 255 kilometers. It will be fitted with a huge Tesla-like touch screen, and a digital instrument panel.

CHTC Red Space

China is famous for netting head-designers and chief-engineers that have totally failed elsewhere. China cares about fame, not about ability. The country’s latest catch is none other than Chris Bangle, infamous for ruining an entire generation of BMWs.

The company that caught him is called the China Hi-Tech Group (CHTC), a state-owned conglomerate involved in car making, car trading, chemicals, textiles, and machinery.

Their Bangle-drawn little roundabout is called the Red Space, it debuted not in China, but at the L.A. Auto Show in America. It looks interesting, daring, and definitely different. The Red Space is a four-seat electric city car that doubles as “a place to hang out”. It will be positioned as a premium-small EV aimed at young hipsters living in big cities. Production is set to start sometime in the near future.

Sinogold GM3

The designers of Sinogold went the old-fashioned Chinese way for their new GM3: copy it. Their inspiration was the Citroen C4 Grand Picasso, a French MPV. The cars are ultra close in design and proportions, they even share the exact same wheelbase.

Sinogold is a new semi-state owned EV maker based in Shandong, a province loaded with EV businesses. It is the hotbed of the LSEV sector. The six-seat GM3 is their first car, it will be followed by an SUV, and a sedan.

The electric motor delivers a healthy 163 hp, good for a top speed of 150 km/h. Claimed range, depending on battery pack, ranges from 300 to 405 kilometers (186 to 252 miles.) The GM3 has been launched on the Chinese car market earlier this week, price including all subsidies starts at 147,200 yuan or $22,250. Not too much for a proper fake Picasso.

More NEV next week!