In just a few months, a new electric vehicle brand will lob on Australian shores, potentially carving out a niche as a style-driven but affordable EV offering.
GWM’s dedicated EV brand, Ora, has already been confirmed by Great Wall Motors’ Chinese headquarters via a media release from late 2021 touching on the strengths of the Australian and New Zealand markets.
But things are firming for Ora’s Australian debut, even if GWM Australia is still yet to officially confirm it.
CarsGuide understands that GWM Ora will launch in Australia early in 2023, although specific timing is yet to be confirmed.
The first cab of the rank will be the model known in some international markets as the Ora Cat, also known as the Haomao in China.
It is unclear if it will carry that name in Australia, but it could change. GWM has changed model names for other offerings in its line-up to suit the Australian market. For example, the recently launched H6 GT is known in China as the F7x.
The Ora Cat has different variants with equally cute names, like Good Cat, Funky Cat and so on.
It has a unique design, combining retro lines and front-end styling with a downright modern rear end with LED tail-lights integrated into the rear windscreen.
As we have reported, the Ora Cat measures 4234mm long, 1825mm wide, 1603mm tall and with a 2650mm wheelbase, making it a little smaller than the Nissan Leaf and Hyundai Ioniq Electric that has just been discontinued.
It is underpinned by GWM’s new unfortunately named LEMON architecture, which is not a dedicated EV platform as it also underpins models like the Jolion.
Pricing is a while from being revealed, but there is a good chance it could battle for the title of Australia’s most affordable EV against the MG ZS EV (from $46,990 drive-away) and the BYD Atto 3 (from $44,381 before on-road costs).
In the UK, the Funky Cat is offered with a 48kWh battery allowing up to 311km of driving range, with the electric motor delivering 126kW/250Nm to the front wheels, ensuing an 8.3-second 0-100km/h acceleration time.
There are a few models under the GWM Ora brand umbrella in China, but it’s believed two will make it to Australia initially.
One model that almost certainly won’t be seen in Australian dealerships is the adorably named Ora Adora – AKA the Ora R1. The tiny EV is built on an older platform and is unlikely to be deemed suitable for the local market.
Other possibilities in line for the Australian market include small models like the iQ – a name that Toyota used for a tiny city car in Europe until 2015 – as well as the White Cat.
The Ora Punk Cat is a GWM’s take on a classic VW Beetle design but with an electric powertrain, while the Lightning Cat is another copycat design, this time aping the original Porsche Panamera and current Bentley designs.
The Lightning Cat is a medium-sized sedan that could compete with the Tesla Model 3 and forthcoming Hyundai Ioniq 6 if it ended up in Australia.
A couple of concepts that could make it into production include the Ora Futurist and the Ora Big Cat compact SUV that is heavily based on the Macchiato model from GWM’s premium offshoot, Wey.