Good Cat Adds to Growing EV Market

By Lee Pang Seng

GOOD Cat is an unusual name for a car but given how cute it looks, perhaps the catchy name is just about right. The ORA Good Cat is the latest to make an entry to the EV or e-vehicle (electric vehicle) market here and its feline name might just endear it to many potential customers, in particular cat lovers or the feminine clientele.

It’s the first Chinese-made e-vehicle to make its presence here, taking on the Nissan Leaf and Renault Zoe, before the market gets really crowded, what with the Proton Smart e-vehicle that is due in a year’s time. As it were, there are already the more premium options from the Mercedes-Benz EQ range and BMW i range.

ORA is a sub-brand in the GWM (Great Wall Motors) group that is dedicated to e-vehicles. If you are wondering about the sub-brand name ORA, GWM says it was chosen to commemorate the world-renowned scientist Leonhard Euler. How that name is linked is not fully explained but GWM feels the name ORA would imply that it has ‘leading resource technologies (such as its ME platform), strict quality standards, personality, people-oriented design concept, intelligent products and a model advancing with the times’.

Good Cat is its first product and this car was introduced in China in August 2020. GWM says that more than 100,000 Good Cats were sold since then. Encouraged by the good response, GWM set up base in Thailand in November last year and the market response is said to be very positive. For the first half of 2022, the Good Cat has earned the top spot in BEV (battery electric vehicle) sales and the demand remains good.

It then looked further south to Malaysia where it set up Great Wall Motor Sales Malaysia in July this year. The ORA Good Cat would be launched in November to what the company says is the ‘high anticipation by potential customers’ here. During the Good Cat media preview drive, we learnt that this ORA e-vehicle would be priced between RM150,000 and RM180,000. For sure, e-vehicles would currently be available only for the well-off.

Nevertheless, it’s a good start for environmentally friendly motoring here as the greater range of e-vehicles would drum up interest among new vehicle owners down the line. As a media acquaintance noted, it was just like handphones. Initially, its pricey tag limited its clientele but as more affordable options came along, it boomed to the market it is today when just about everyone could own a handphone.

China, which is the biggest e-vehicle market in the world today, already has affordable options that have found wide appeal among its big pool of new vehicle buyers. The ORA Good Cat certainly offers a taste of what is likely to come in the affordable options in the not-too-distant future.

The Good Cat is a good size car; noticeably bigger than the Perodua Myvi but smaller than the B-segment range. It sits on a 2650mm wheelbase and its body dimensions are 4235mm overall length, 1825mm width and 1596mm tall. Ground clearance looks good at 145mm.
As its body outline is styled by a former ‘Porsche design team’ led by Emanuel Delta, we see a hint of the VW Beetle from the front perspective. GWM describes the body styling as a ‘Retro Futuristic’ one that combines classic and future design cues, Overall, the Good Car stands out on its own with neat individual styling touches.

The round LED (light emitting diode) headlamps are each encircled by LED daytime running lights, which double as indicator lights. The rear sees a minimal lamp arrangement, with individual multifunction strips above the bumpers and the stopping LED lamps on the rear windscreen. The latter is the full body width type that is currently the trend.

As a fully electric powered car, the Good Cat has a permanent magnet synchronous motor with an output of 105kW (143PS) and 210Nm. This is quite a sizeable unit that is located in front where an engine normally sits in ICE (internal combustion engine) cars. The battery is a liquid-cooled Temary Lithium with a capacity of slightly more than 63kW. This is a flat and large unit that is located at floor level.

This battery is said to have passed the IPX9K standard waterproof test that involves a high pressure and high temperature (80 degree Celsius) water spray test. GWM says the battery is designed to support five aspects of electrical safety concerns – water, erosion, collision, crash and re-resistances – among other safety measures.

The electric motor and battery form what GWM calls the LEMON – Lightweight, Electrification, Multi-Purpose, Omni-Protection Network – platform that is part of the car chassis. This includes the MacPherson strut suspension in front and torsion bar arrangement at the rear. The Good Cat comes with 215/50 R18 GitiComfort 225 tyres on five-spoke alloy wheels.

An interesting note is the choice of the ORA brand logo. It looks like an exclamation mark or an upside-down bowling pin. There is no mention of how this logo was arrived at from the company and product information. If anything, it reflects the bold statement the ORA Good Cat is making to pander to e-vehicle customers in China and globally (it was said to be successfully introduced at the Paris Motor Show recently).

Highway-Putrajaya drive

With the recent enjoyable drive experience with the hybrid e-vehicles from Honda, we were expecting more of the same with the Good Cat. While the Good Cat has comparatively less torque to drive the front wheels, 210Nm was still a lot of torque to power the car. There was also the power-to-weight ratio factor that would work in its favour.

We didn’t get to do the 0-100km/h acceleration runs but only short sprints to experience its good acceleration and the good braking performance. These runs were part of a dynamic experience at an open tarmac ground near the Gamuda Cove Experience Gallery in Banting. The other two runs were slaloms; a tight course followed by a gentler one.

The Good Cat appeared dynamically sound taking to the tight slalom course at reasonably good speeds and the gentler one at a higher pace. The electric power steering gave good directional feedback and the body lean was mild.

As expected, the acceleration was strong with 210Nm being delivered immediately to the road, so much so that we experienced wheel spins on take-off due to the damp and gravelly tarmac surface (much like the recent Honda Civic e:HEV RS drive experience). And the brake system worked well – front ventilated discs and rear solid discs – to stop the Good Cat effectively in emergency braking.

Taking to the highway, the Good Cat built up speed effortlessly to flow with traffic much like the Nissan Leaf that we drove a few years ago. The Good Cat might only have a top speed of 152km/h but you could achieve robust speeds easily; as such, we had to watch out for the speed cameras.

With new cars these days, ICE or electric vehicles, you hear little of the engine or power source on highway cruising but a lot more of the road noise generated by the tyres over the respective road surfaces. The difference is that when we accelerated hard, you won’t hear the engine roar in an e-vehicle and that was how it ran with the Good Cat; just quick and quite moving acceleration.

The Good Cat comes with a high level of drive specifications and features. Cruise control is one and there is a cornering function too. The latter, when turned on, is an automatic speed control that would reduce vehicle speed if one is driving too fast into a corner. We didn’t use that as the 60km highway-secondary road drive saw too few tight corners.

There are five driving modes – Standard, Sport, Eco, Eco+ and Auto – that we could select and we tried two; Eco and Standard. The battery regenerative function (or energy recovery) is always active and the rate of this function varied according to the drive mode selected. This came in the form of speed retardation and it was heavier in Eco mode than in Standard.

It has a good range of active and passive safety systems including auto emergency braking with the ‘best in class’ pedestrian detection system, front and rear collision warnings, four high-definition surround cameras for 360-degree view of the car from a top perspective, a Wisdom Dodge System that helps the driver to avoid crashing into trucks and heavy vehicles, among others. The Good Cat is said to have achieved five stars in C-NCAP tests.

The spacious interior sees a two-tone ambience that adds a flashy flair. The driver’s seat is electrically adjustable in six ways while the passenger seat is manually adjustable in four ways. Only the driver’s seat come with a multiple massage function. A panoramic sunroof comes standard and it is well tinted to keep out the harsh sun rays during our noon drive. The air-cond system comes with a PM25 filter to provide clean air circulating in the interior.

There are four USB ports for handphone charging along with a wireless charger on the centre console and a power outlet. Due to the flat battery floor, tall rear passengers could tuck their feet under the front seats. However, the luggage area is shallow as a result and there is no spare tyre but a tyre repair kit.

Luggage space could be extended by folding the 60:40 split rear seatrests. There is a foldable centre armrest with a cupholder for rear passengers. We had a rear passenger ride experience during the drive and found it comfortable. The smooth aerodynamics of the Good Cat body made for a quiet ride without intrusive air turbulence other than the tolerable road roar. The torsion beam rear suspension did lead to a firm ride over speedbumps, especially when going over them faster than necessary.

Overall, the ORA Good Cat would give its currently small circle of e-vehicles here a good run for the money. It’s a nice sized EV to putter around in urban traffic and its good electric mileage of 500km would be more than sufficient for short drives from the Klang Valley. Our 60km plus drive only consumed about 80km of the mileage capacity; the Good Cat’s electric mileage was about 400km when we started the drive and it still had more than 320km at the end of it. Range anxiety is the least of your problems and that’s a ‘Haomao’ or a Good Cat to have.