By Kingsley Wijayasinha
The Nation Weekend
While the majority of auto brands have not yet launched full EVs (electric vehicles) in the Thai market, most offering just hybrids so far, smaller brands seems to be quicker in this department.
Hyundai, Kia and Nissan now offer EVs in Thailand, but all are imported, while locally produced EVs still look like golf carts in disguise.
Meanwhile, sports car maker MG will be the next brand to offer an EV model in Thailand, with the ZS EV crossover to be officially launched in Bangkok on June 20. Retail pricing will be announced then, but many are expecting it to cost around Bt1.5 million.
Like other EVs sold here, the ZS EV is also imported (from China), although MG has a plant at the Hemaraj Eastern Seaboard Industrial Estate in Chon Buri province that churns out right-hand-drive petrol-burning MGs for the Asia-Pacific market.
MG has been highly successful in Thailand in the past two years. Last year it sold over 23,000 vehicles and now has a five-year aggregate of 50,000 units. While top sellers include the MG3 and ZS, the ZS EV is expected to help boost sales further by attracting customers looking for an EV with more affordable pricing. The Nissan LEAF, for example, retails at around Bt2 million.
MG, owned by SAIC Motors of China, first showed the ZS EV concept at the Guangzhou Auto Show last November, and the crossover made its way to the Bangkok International Motor Show in late march.
According to MG, the ZS EV gets its power from a 44.5kWh water-cooled battery with rapid charging capability (0-80 per cent in 43 minutes). Normal charging from a 7kWh wall unit takes 6.5 hours (0-100 per cent).
Maximum output is claimed at 150 horsepower, and MG claims a range of as much as 428 kilometres (down to 335km according to the NEDC standard). This means that the MG ZS does not have to be charged daily, which is a plus for user convenience. Another plus is that the interior space has not been affected by the electrification process.
Although Thai specifications had not been released by press time, customers can expect similar packages offered in other markets such as the UK and China.
The exterior features LED daytime running lights, a roof rack and 17-inch alloy wheels. Inside, there’s a six-way powered driver’s seat, 40/60 split rear seats and multi-function steering wheel. The large sliding panoramic sunroof helps give the cabin an airy atmosphere.
Safety features, apart from the regular ABS brakes and six airbags, include blind spot detection, autonomous emergency braking, pedestrian alert control, lane-keeping assist and adaptive cruise control.
The MG ZS is targeted at the younger generation (aka “Fast Forward” generation) so much importance has been given to connectivity.
There is an eight-inch colour touchscreen, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Bluetooth and navigation. And, of course, Thailand customers can expect the i-SMART Thai language voice command system and mobile application.
Meanwhile, MG has also been preparing charging stations for customers by teaming up with Energy Absolute PCL to jointly develop an EV charging network across the country.
Also expect the larger MG crossover, the GS, to come in 2020 with electrification in the form of a PHEV (Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle) with a short EV range.
MG ZS EV specs
Electric motor: Permanent magnet synchronous
Max power: 150ps (110kW)
Max torque: 350Nm
0-100: 9.0 secs
Top speed: 150km/h
Steering: powered rack and pinion
Brakes (f/r): vented disc/disc
Wheels: 17-inch alloy
Tyres: 215/50 R17
Price: to be announced
Distributor: MG Sales (Thailand) Co Ltd