Has anything ever felt more counterintuitive than using electric cars, in South Africa, in 2023? Not really. Yet, we love them anyway. Enter the Ora Funky Cat, from Chinese automaker Great Wall Motors (GWM), as South Africa’s cheapest electric car. Despite the country’s ongoing issues where electricity is concerned, going the electric avenue counters our next big issue – the absurdly high petrol prices.
The car will simply be known as the GWM Ora in SA (thankfully) and will be joined by the GWM Tank, with both being shown off at the Nampo Harvest Day this week (16 – 19 May) in the Free State. Technically, this is the cheapest EV in the country, but it’s by no means cheap. Pricing starts at R716,900 for the base model, going as high as R915,900 depending on the bells and whistles you add.
Until the Ora’s official launch later this year, the title of cheapest EV still belongs to the Mini Cooper SE, with a starting price of R742,000.
Going off the grid
Even with the ‘cheapest EV in SA’ moniker eventually attached, is it really worth spending R717,000 on a car that so heavily relies on a grid that’s held together by a thread? As it turns out, yes. The Ora is packing all the regular bits and bobs you’d expect from any car made this decade – a 10.2in touchscreen infotainment system, a digital instrument cluster, wireless smartphone charging, and steering wheel with, get this, buttons on it. We’re living in the future, man. Although considering the large price range and the fact that trim levels for South Africa have yet to be confirmed, these specs could vary between models.
While there are two models of the Ora out in the wild, the one heading to SA packs an electric motor that’ll output 126KW of power and 250Nm of torque. Those specs will apparently get you up to a top speed of 160km/h, with 0-100km/h taking eight seconds.
Powering that motor is a 63 kWh battery pack but, unfortunately, the claimed 420km range on a single charge wouldn’t survive a trip to Durban from the Stuff offices. However, the Ora does support fast charging, with an 80kW DC charger taking 41 minutes to go from 10% to 80% — according to GWM anyway.
Finally, the Ora features several cameras and sensors providing 360-degree visibility, with lane-departure warning, automatic emergency braking and cruise control all built-in.
We’re hopeful that GWM’s pace-setting prices could see the beginning of even cheaper EVs in South Africa, though it will likely be longer still before SA motorists are rid of the preposterous EV taxes and levies that plague us.