China’s Tesla is set for launch here on April 11



The battery-powered Geely GE11, also known as the Jihe A, could soon be a common sight on our roads

SINGAPORE — Tesla chief executive Elon Musk may have decided that the Singapore market is too hostile for his electric cars, but at least one Chinese competitor would love to prove him wrong.

Zhejiang Geely Holding Group plans to launch a battery-powered car here on April 11, giving fans of Electric Vehicles (EVs) one more mass-market model to consider.

CarBuyer understands that Zhejiang Geely will make Singapore an early export market for the GE11, a pure electric vehicle sold as the Jihe A by its new Geely New Energy brand.

Launching the GE11 outside of China is the latest move by a car company that has serious global ambitions. Geely group owns Volvo Car Group and is the single largest shareholder of Daimler, the parent company of Mercedes-Benz.

Its subsidiary, the Hongkong-listed Geely Auto Group, also has majority stakes in Lotus, the iconic British sports car brand, and owns 49.9 percent of Malaysia’s Proton. It operates Lynk & Co, a start-up luxury car company, as a joint venture with Volvo.

The group has also invested in a company that builds electric versions of London’s famed taxi cabs, and bought Terrafugia, a startup developing flying cars, in December 2017.

The GE11 is something of a rival to Tesla’s Model 3, the American company’s entry-level model and the single best-selling EV around the world in 2018.

The Chinese car is reportedly 4,736mm long and 1,804mm wide, with a wheelbase of 2,700mm. That makes it slightly bigger than a Toyota Corolla Altis, a popular family sedan here.

It has sleek lines and flush door handles designed to minimise wind resistance, thus lowering electricity consumption, and its front grille is closed off to reflect the fact that it has no combustion engine.

The GE11’s wheels are designed to cut wind resistance, too. The car will also debut a new logo for the Geely New Energy sub-brand — simplified and silvery, to connote its modernity.

A small digital display takes the place of normal instruments in the minimalist interior, and the in-car infotainment system is built around a slim, 12.3-inch touchscreen. Geely’s designers replaced conventional switches with touch-sensitive pads that light up.

Geely says the GE11’s cabin is eco-friendly in itself. It uses materials that meet the EU’s OEKO-TEX Standard 100 requirement, which means they are considered safe even for newborn babies.

Reports say the GE11 will come with two range options, 410km and 500km, with a 130 killowatt (or 177 horsepower) electric motor providing the drive.

Based on its estimated retail pricing in China, the Geely GE 11 could cost about as much as Hyundai’s Ioniq EV (which is listed at S$139,999 with Certificate Of Entitlement) if it qualifies for the same S$20,000 green rebate under the Vehicular Emissions Scheme.

That would also put it in the same pricing neighbourhood as the Nissan Leaf, which is expected to go on sale here in May at a similar price.

What is currently unclear is whether the GE11 will actually go on sale to the public. CarBuyer understands that it will be launched here to form a fleet of cars for a premium ride-hailing service.

Grab, a ride-hailing company, has been an eager adopter of EVs here, adding 200 Hyundai Kona EVs (pictured below) to its fleet. The company says its EVs are 70 percent cheaper to run than petrol ones.

Taxi company HDT is another potential buyer for the GE11. It operates a fleet of battery-powered taxis made by BYD, a Chinese car manufacturer, and has said it will have 800 EVs by the middle of 2022.

That China should begin exporting EVs is surprising, given its own appetite for such cars. Last year, drivers in the country bought more than half the world’s electric or plug-in hybrid cars.

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Leow Ju-Len
Leow Ju-Len is a lot older than he behaves. He's been writing about cars for 23 years. Someday he might do it coherently. Ju-Len believes in world peace and V8s, but not necessarily in that order.