Great Wall Motors’ upcoming ORA EV is ‘inspired’ by the original Volkswagen Beetle

To be unveiled at the 2021 Shanghai auto show, the new ORA EV clearly follows the design template of a motoring icon.


China’s Great Wall Motors is going from strength to strength in many markets worldwide, and its ORA all-electric sub-brand continues to grow with the regular addition of new models. Just last year, the company introduced yet another neo-retro E electric vehicle (EV), known in its home market as the ORA Good Cat (or the ORA Haomao). Now, ORA’s latest EV has been previewed ahead of its world premiere at the 2021 Shanghai auto show (starting 21 April), and it’s clear from the teasers that this one is nothing but a modern-day reinterpretation of a motoring icon – the original Volkswagen Beetle.

There's no hiding from the fact that ORA's new EV is a modern-day take on the original Volkswagen Beetle. Image: ORA

There's no hiding from the fact that ORA's new EV is a modern-day take on the original Volkswagen Beetle. Image: ORA

ORA’s range comprises several neo-retro EVs, including the ORA R1, which was showcased at the 2020 Auto Expo in New Delhi. Even last year, along with the Good Cat, the company debuted a concept named the ORA Futurist, which was inspired by sedans from the 1960s and 70s. Now, ORA is readying yet another retro-style model that has a familiar silhouette as well as several styling cues taken straight off the Beetle. Commonalities include round, chrome-encased headlights, heavily flared wheel arches, circular outside rear-view mirrors, protruding front and rear bumpers, a curved tail section and oval tail-lights.

Curved tail section, protruding bumpers and oval tail-lights are signature Beetle cues. Image: ORA

Curved tail section, protruding bumpers and oval tail-lights are signature Beetle cues. Image: ORA

One key difference is that ORA’s EV has four doors as opposed to the original Beetle’s two doors, and that has had an impact on its stance and overall appearance. What the teasers also reveal is the EV will sport large alloy wheels and disc brakes at all four corners.

Clean, minimalist layout with chrome elements is a nod to interiors of the past. Image: ORA

Clean, minimalist layout with chrome elements is a nod to interiors of the past. Image: ORA

An image of the ORA EV’s interior reveals it has a lot in common with the Futurist concept – it has the same, retro-style steering wheel (with a thin rim and a chromed-over semi-circle), chrome interior door handles, a large floating touchscreen infotainment system, a single, circular digital instruments display, turbine-style AC vents, sofa-like seats and a chrome-finished centre console featuring a rotary dial.

ORA has floated six potential names for its new EV as part of an online voting process – ORA Spirit Cat, ORA Punk Cat, ORA Noble Cat, ORA Posh Cat, ORA Royal Cat and ORA Bridge Cat. The final name with the highest votes will be chosen once online voting closes on 18 April.

ORA is billing its Beetle-inspired EV as a ‘time machine’, and a vehicle that will take one back ‘to the age of princesses’. This is understood to be a part of ORA’s attempt to position this new, Beetle-style EV as an offering for women.

Full technical details will only be available at the world premiere, but ORA’s new EV is likely to be based on the company’s dedicated Lemon EV platform. It’s expected to feature a 143 hp, 210 Nm electric motor, with two battery size options – 47.8 kWh and 59.1 kWh. The version with the bigger battery is expected to have a range of over 500 kilometres on a full charge, and charge times will be around eight hours (AC charging) and a little over 30 minutes (from 30 to 80 percent) with DC fast charging. It will have a 0-50 kph time of around four seconds, and a top speed of close to 150 kph.

It remains to be seen how Volkswagen reacts to ORA’s new EV, seeing as how VW has no ties with Great Wall Motors, and does, in fact, collaborate with GWM’s rivals including SAIC Motor, JAC Motors and FAW. It's important to note that the Beetle nameplate is no longer in use, as Volkswagen phased out the modern-day iteration of the Beetle in 2019.

Closer to home, sources say Great Wall Motors’ India journey – delayed because of the India-China border skirmishes that occurred in 2020 – is on the verge of receiving a green light from authorities. Great Wall is to take over the former General Motors plant in Talegaon, and is expected to commence its India innings by launching a midsize SUV under its Haval sub-brand. However, this is unlikely to happen before 2022.


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