It’s a common playbook for emerging car manufacturers: launch with a product that might be a long way from the establishment on quality but it’s so keenly priced that it’s impossible to ignore. Then gradually ramp up the quality and gain consumer acceptance. The GWM Ora 03 (previously called the Ora Funky Cat) is a little more impatient.
When it launched, it didn't play the same value game as its MG 4 EV compatriot. The car was originally announced with a very attractive price, but Ora’s UK sales director told Autocar: “Once we saw the car and realised how high-quality the interior was, and really understood the personality of it, we realised we’ve got something really quite special and therefore we can be quite targeted in the market where it’s going to be.”
It does still undercut medium EVs like the Volkswagen ID 3 and Kia Niro EV, but there is no hiding from established competition like the Vauxhall Corsa Electric, the Fiat 500 Electric or, indeed, the MG 4. It’s a bold strategy for an unknown brand.
The company behind the Ora 03 is Great Wall Motors and it isn’t entirely new to the UK. The company once sold the Great Wall Steed pick-up truck here, but it is probably hoping that vehicle – and its two-star review – has long since been forgotten.
It takes only a brief look at the Ora 03 to know that it is in an entirely different league from what the Chinese car industry could muster 10 years ago. Today, ‘new energy vehicles’ – as EVs are called over there – have become a specialty of Chinese manufacturers, so could Ora follow MG to be a smash hit in Europe and be ranked one of the best small electric cars?