The showstopper of Auto Expo 2020 is a fresh entry into the Indian automotive scene. They go by the name of Great Wall Motors or GWM. It is a Chinese marque that showcased a host of products along with their sub-brands. There are a host of handsome looking SUVs from its Haval sub-brand which looks and feels like it will give the top players in the Indian scene a serious competition.
But omitting the big muscular SUVs, there was a very quirky car on display, the R1 EV. As the name suggests, it is an electric vehicle and internationally the R1 is retailed under GWM’s “ORA” sub-brand. ORA only sells EVs and it stands for Open, Reliable and Alternative, a very open-ended full form, but it is and puts forward their idea with EVs.
By the looks of it, the R1 gets its design inspiration from the likes of Honda that fuses modern and retro bits to make it look much more desirable. It is a small and nimble car and is as long as a Maruti Suzuki Alto 800. The round headlights stand out with the projector lighting setup. There is no grille present, instead, it gets the charging port bang at the centre with the logo on the cover. The rear is minimal and reminds us heavily of the Smart electric cars. The rear bumper gets a fog lamp at the bottom centre.
The neo-retro offering from Great Wall Motors looks funky with the colours on the show but the interesting part of this car is its range. It gets a 33 kWh lithium-ion battery coupled to a 33kW electric motor. It can run for an impressive 300 km on a full charge according to the NEDC cycle. This will make it the perfect option for the city commuter and is easy to come by due to the small footprint.
Another notable factor is its pricing. Nothing has been revealed for India but the R1 is known for its affordability in China. It sells from Chinese Yuan 59,800 which is Rs. 6.15 lakhs and if GWM manages to price it similarly in India, then its a jackpot for them. Now, the cheapest EV on offer is the Mahindra eKUV100 that was also launched in the Auto Expo 2020 and is priced north of Rs.8 lakhs. As Great Wall Motors has confirmed to take possession of the General Motors plant in Talegaon, they might have found a way to cut short on expenses and thus stand to make a mark.
The interior is minimal and feature-packed and the dual-tone colour treatment gives the cabin an airy feel. The automaker has high hopes with its line-up and that is visible with the amount of detailed layout it showcased at the Auto Expo with even cut-outs of their IC engines and battery packs. GWM have already invested a fair amount of money for its Indian operations and we will be seeing its fruits from, later on, this year.