Going green with Dongfeng
Globally, China is leading the race to electrification of the car industry and is actually bigger than the United States. In 2015, China had 331,000 new EV sales units, while the US market only had 116,000 units. Also, global car players had accumulated 540,000 new EV unit sales. Last year, new EV sales in China hit the one-million mark, with the US trailing the Asian giant with only 400,000 units. Maybe, Warren Buffet had a hand in this EV phenomena when he invested in BYD, a Chinese company whose core business is producing electric batteries for anything mechanical. BYD is the biggest EV battery manufacturer in the world at the moment.
So it comes as no surprise if companies like Dong Feng bites into the global EV market. Dongfeng is a Chinese state-owned automobile manufacturer with its headquarters based in Wuhan, China. Dongfeng is one of China’s “Big Three” and is currently in the top four in terms of vehicle output by way of majority stakes in Changan Automobile, FAW Group and SAIC motors. Their subsidiaries include Dongfeng Yulon, Dongfeng Yueda Kia, Dongfeng Honda, Dongfeng Motor Co., Dongfeng Peugoet-Citroen and Dongfeng Renault.
The ER30 EV
In the Philippines, the official distributor of Dongfeng automobile is Pilipinas Autogroup Inc. (PAI), owned by businessmen George Blaylock and David Coyukiat, whose subsidiaries include Tata motors, Diamond Motors (Mitsubishi) and an automotive repair/parts company Talyer Ko.
“We are proud to be the partners of Dongfeng in the domestic market. Their inclusion into our group will boost our domestic expansion plans,” explained Art Balmadrid, general manager-vice president of PAI. According to Balmadrid, PAI will bring over Dongfeng’s full automotive line-up from cars to trucks.
An attestation to this commitment is the company’s participation in the recently concluded EV summit, wherein they introduced the Dongfeng ER30 full-electric vehicle. The ER30 EV “Skio” is a joint venture vehicle development between Zheijiang whose platform is based on the Dongfeng Nissan Kai Chen R30. This writer was able to drive the ER30 and it felt like driving a golf cart. Unlike conventional combustion engines, this EV ER30 provides instant torque. It accelerates smoothly and it can accelerate from 0-50 kph vigorously with more power compared to a conventional car. Since the design of an EV is not limited to the constraints of a conventional engine, engineers are able to position the batteries and motors to give an optimum weight distribution and a much lower center of gravity. This explains its fun to drive factor.
Silky smooth acceleration
The acceleration is smooth as silk and starting the car is like flickering a switch. An indicator light on the dash will say that the car is on and is ready to roll. The ER30 test unit has an on-board charger that can be plugged on a 16 amperes wall socket that takes about eight hours to fully charge the 31.82-KwH batteries. The ternary lithium battery has a warranty period of eight years or 120,000 kilometers. Power comes from a Dongfeng electric permanent magnet that has a power of 30-60kw at 9,000 rpm. Torque is rated at 72 to 200 Nm at 9,000 rpm and it has a maximum speed of 115 kph. On the street, this EV can hold its own against gas powered subcompact sedans with engines up to 1.5 liters. It is agile and accelerates smoothly without the usual “shift shock” of some conventional cars.
This writer was kept cool with the ER30’s climate control system and the only downside I see with this car is that it so quiet, that you would not know the car is on already. Being a small wheelbase car, the ER30 would be perfect in a developing country such as ours. It has no carbon footprint so it is eco-friendly. The guys at PAI are not saying anything about its retail price, and all they can say is that they are in negotiations and currently computing to make the ER30 affordable to the public. I just wish that the Philippine government would create incentive programs for the automotive industry to further the cause of mobile electrification.
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