Chery Omoda E5 electric | — Australia’s leading news site

Chinese car maker Chery will launch its first electric vehicle in the middle of this year.

The brand, which returned to the Australian market last year with the petrol-powered Omoda compact SUV, will take on the likes of BYD and MG at the budget end of the electric SUV market.

The Omoda E5 is powered by a single electric motor that puts out the same power as BYD’s Atto 3 but develops slightly more torque. Chery claims a 0-100km/h time of 7.6 seconds, which is three-tenths slower than the Atto 3.

Driving range is also lineball with the Atto: Chery claims 430km, 10km more than the long-range version of the Atto 3. Both can charge at 80kW, which is roughly a third of the speed of EVs from established makers such as Tesla, Kia and Hyundai.

The brand hasn’t released pricing for the E5, but it will need to cost about $50,000 plus on-roads to be competitive with the Atto3 and MG ZS EV.

That’s a big leap from the petrol-powered Omoda range, which currently starts at $32,990 drive-away plus a $2000 factory bonus).

Unlike the Atto 3, which was built from the ground up as an EV, the Omoda shares its underpinnings with the petrol Omoda.

But Chery Australia managing director Lucas Harris doesn’t see that as a disadvantage, as the Omoda was designed with multiple power sources in mind.

Harris doesn’t expect the E5 to be the brand’s volume seller, but has plenty of supply if demand is higher than expected.

“It’s not going to be the main breadwinner, but I certainly don’t think that the volume is going to be anything that we want to ignore,” he says.

He says the brand will bring more EVs into Australia and will eventually expand its range with hybrids and plug-in hybrids.

“Without a doubt those other new energy powertrain vehicles, big and small, will eventually make their way to Australia,” he says.

Details are scarce but the E5 appears well equipped. Its dash is dominated by a large 12.3-inch centre screen and digital driver display, while the quality of cabin materials appears a step above its rivals.

Chery Australia managing director Lucas Harris said the E5 would arrive soon after its seven-seater SUV, the Tiggo 8 Pro Max, which lands in May.

“The Omoda E5 is the next step in our local expansion strategy and underscores Chery’s commitment to providing Australian drivers with access to advanced electric vehicle technology without compromising on performance or style,” he said.

The E5 will be available in two models, Standard and Premium.

Further details regarding pricing and specification will be announced closer to the launch.

It joins an expanding line-up that includes the RAV4-sized Tiggo 7 Pro, which ranges from $36,990 to $47,190 drive-away, and the updated Omoda GT, which has more power and retuned suspension.

Harris says the brand plans to introduce two more vehicles before the end of the year and hints that a cheap urban runabout could be part of the mix.

He will also launch an off-road, luxury-focused sub-brand called Jaecoo.

Jaecoo will launch with the J7, which has Range Rover inspired looks and comes in both two-wheel and four-wheel-drive.

“What I can say about it is that it’s a very different brand from Chery. It’s a totally different look and feel. It’s much more adventure, go anywhere, off road style vehicles, whereas Chery is a bit more of the mainstream, volume brand,” he says.

Chery has sold more than 6000 vehicles since launching here last year and Harris says the brand has aspirations of eventually becoming a top ten brand in Australia.

Sales of Chinese cars have grown spectacularly in recent years, as mainstream brands have raised prices and struggled with supply issues.

Australians bought almost 200,000 Chinese-built cars last year, up 57 per cent on the year before. In the process China replaced Korea as our third biggest importer behind Japan and Thailand.

Harris puts the growth down to value, rather than price alone.

“Over the last few years, vehicles generally have become a lot more expensive and, particularly lately, the economy’s perhaps not as buoyant as what we would like. And so people have become, I would not say price conscious, but rather value conscious,” he says.

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