The car pictured above is the new Panda, but it carries the name Geely instead of the Fiat logo. The tiny, boxy EV intends to steal some of the success of the Wuling Hongguang Mini EV, China’s number one-selling electric car. That’s why it looks so similar.
With its new Panda, Geely is aiming for China’s bestseller. With 554 067 units sold, the lilliputian Wuling Mini EV rules the Ev market. And as Geely intends to shift 600 000 EVs in 2023, it needs a sales locomotive on its home turf, representing the biggest electric car market in absolute numbers.
The word locomotive might be poorly chosen in this context since the new Panda is a micro-sized city car capable of transporting four people around China’s metropoles. Geely has no export plans for the model.
Compared to its rival, the Panda mimics most of its specifications. Both cars offer 41 hp, a range of 200 kilometers at best (according to the favorable CLTC cycle), and a top speed of 100 km/hour. Dimensions are very similar also. The Panda is just a tad longer (3 065 mm, +5 mm) and wider (1 522 mm, + 2 mm) but slightly shorter than the Wuling Mini EV (1660 mm, -5 mm).
The battery packs use lithium-iron-phosphate chemistry (LFP) and are made by Guoxuan Hi-Tech, which is less expensive, cobalt-free, safer, and allows for faster charging. For example, at a 22 kW charger, an option not available on the Wuling Mini EV, it takes half an hour to recharge the pack from 30-80%.
Starting at €5 500
Geely is offering two versions. The short-range model (9,6 kWh) copes with a range of 120 kilometers; the long-range (17 kWh) can attain the 200 kilometers mentioned above. Next to four individual seats, the interior is equipped with a 9,2-inch LCD instrument panel and an infotainment display featuring voice recognition.
With a rear-view camera, tire pressure alarm, and a child safety seat interface, equipment isn’t as basic as the size and cost of the vehicle might suggest. Prices vary between 40 000 and 60 000 RMB, or €5 500 and €8 200.
Though Chinese brands have been notorious for blatantly copying products and names, often an infringement on intellectual rights, the Panda name isn’t new to Geely. In 2008, the brand launched the badge for the first time. It wasn’t stuck on a cheap Fiat clone but on a small city car with bulb looks and popping big headlamps, reminiscent of the bear living in the forests in the mountains of southwest China.
As an endangered species, the animal is the country’s national emblem. The new model, for which pre-sales have already started, refers to the mammal by the oval design striping connecting both headlamps.
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