Yesterday brought dual sightings of the Great Wall ORA Cat, now on sale in Australia. It was spotted at the Noosa Eco Fest and also at the RACQ Futures Pavilion, two huge events for electric car lovers. We attended the Noosa event again this year, and in my usual walk around the exhibits before the voracious public arrived, I spotted something that set my blood racing and my brain into overdrive.
Noosa Great Wall Motor (GWM) had a brand spanking new ORA Cat on display. It was beautiful. Written on the side was the price — AU$46,410. Apart from the fact that the car is a futuristic retro punk fusion masterpiece, what got me excited was the price. If you couple this price with the recently doubled Queensland government rebate of $6,000, then you have an EV in Australia at the same price as a Toyota Corolla hybrid. We have price parity. The naysayers will have to find another reason to not buy an electric car.
When Great Wall arrived in Australia, its first vehicle was subpar and earned some well deserved criticism. This is not the case any longer, and the Cat is proof of that. It’s smiling face welcomes the driver and its bonnet and steering wheel badge signals a Mr Incredible futuristic vibe.
My wife, Majella, spent some time going over the interior of the car. She noted its easy to clean materials as well as touch controls on the steering wheel for answering the phone and changing the music volume. In the top right corner of the vehicle is a motion sensor to make sure the driver is paying attention to the road. Majella found the car very tactile, with a mixture of materials — suede and leatherette. She tells me the steering wheel is comfortable to hold.
“The rear seats are smaller in width than the Model 3 that we are used to, but there is enough leg room for your average adult,” says Majella, who is 5 foot 10.
The boot appears small but will be big enough for the weekly grocery shop, and of course there is more room available with the back seats folded down. Sadly, the motor occupies the space where the frunk could be.
There is an array of buttons and knobs for the airflow, and even an on/off switch. It reminds me of what Luke Skywalker flew when he was looking for the spot to launch his proton torpedo on the Death Star.
The futuristic retro punk fusion look is not for everyone. One of my correspondents made this comment: “Not for me. It looks like it’s from the 1980s with all the random Chrome dials and knobs and switches. We all know a real second car is another Tesla!”
My thoughts sitting in the Cat were that it was more of a ’50s VW Beetle meets its alternate future self from within the Spiderverse — or perhaps something Ladybug could drive?
Right next to the Cat display was a stand for Bendigo Bank (one of Australia’s smaller but rapidly growing regional banks), and since we would be sharing the stage later in a panel discussion, I thought it would be good to introduce myself. I shared my excitement about the Cat and the branch manager told me that her bank was offering a special interest rate for buyers of electric vehicles — 4.99%. This is a good discount on the rates they were offering for the purchase of a petrol car. And, they would offer a loan which would cover 125% of the cost — allowing for the installation of home charging or other adjustments to accommodate the EV ecosystem of the home.
As well as offering discounted loans for electric vehicle purchases, the bank has a net zero approach called “BENzero,” one of the aims of which is to “monitor and act on opportunities to support employee electric vehicle adoption.”
Using a panel of knowledgeable experts to answer questions previously supplied by the adjudicator allowed us to deal with any and all FUD. The Good Car Company’s Anthony Broese van Groenou talked about community bulk buys of pre-used Nissan LEAFs imported from Japan. The Australian Electric Vehicles Association’s John Murray spoke of his experiences owning and driving an EV for the past 8 years. Kerryn Vincent of Bendigo Bank told us how to finance our EV purchases.
I was there representing CleanTechnica and gave an update on the global and local penetration of EVs and what the future is likely to hold. 2027 is the key year.
The ZEN Noosa EV Expo was our fourth EV Expo in a month (after Gayndah, Rockhampton, and Gladstone), and once again, the public mood was overwhelmingly positive on EVs. All questions were from the curious and not the FUDsters. We talked ourselves hoarse describing our Tesla and promoting EVs in general. As well as charging providers like RegenEV and Noodoe, we had associations present like Tesla Owners Club Australia and the Australian Electric Vehicles Association. Car dealerships had new electric cars on display and for sale — from Genesis, Hyundai, BMW, and, of course, the star of the show for me, the Great Wall ORA Cat.
Even though most of our conversations with the public were about the Tesla Model 3, we also encouraged people to have a look at the MG ZS EV and BYD Atto 3 parked near us. And, of course, we directed them to the ORA Cat as the most affordable car on display. Most said that they had already checked it out and described it as “snazzy” — a car with real presence.
For those who wish to check out all the specs, go here. I have booked a test drive with a local dealer for tomorrow and hopefully will be just as enthusiastic about the car for the next article. Of course, it will be hard to not compare it to my Model 3, which I have been driving for the past 4 years. Being half the price is a sweetener.
I’m not sure when they will arrive in volume — but I hope that 2023 will be the year if the cat.
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