ORA R1 gets a battery upgrade


The 2020 Chengdu Auto Show started yesterday (July 24) and a lot of Chinese automakers are using it to unveil new or upgraded electric cars. One of these automakers is ORA.

ORA is the affordable brand of the giant Chinese automaker GWM (Great Wall Motors) that also owns the battery cell maker SVOLT.


ORA R1 (Black Cat)

The ORA R1 that looks like a mixture between a Honda e (front) and a Smart ForFour (back) now gets a 37 kWh battery, enough to surpass the mark of 400 km range in NEDC, which makes it eligible to get the full government subsidy.

Previously, the long range version of the ORA R1 had a 351 km NEDC range from a 33,9 kWh battery.


Battery specs of the 2019 long range version

  • Production time: December 2018
  • Range (NEDC): 351 km
  • Cell type: Prismatic 102 Ah (NCM/C) by SVOLT
  • Pack energy: 33,96 kWh
  • Connection: 90s1p
  • Nominal voltage: 333 V
  • Operating voltage range: 252~382,5 V
  • Pack weight: 218 kg
  • Pack energy density: 162 Wh/kg
  • Operating temperature range: -30℃~55℃
  • IPXX level: IP67
  • Dimensions: 1.448 x 1.069 x 271,5 mm


Anyway, let’s see what changed in the ORA R1.


2019 ORA R1 (Black Cat)

  • Length: 3.495 mm
  • Width: 1.660 mm
  • Height: 1.560 mm
  • Wheelbase: 2.475 mm
  • Range: 301/351 km (NEDC)
  • Battery: 28,5/33 kWh (SVOLT cells)
  • Motor: 35 kW and 125 N.m of torque
  • Maximum speed: 102 km/h
  • On-board charger: 3,3 kW (6,6 kW optional)
  • DC fast charging: 5-80 % in 40 minutes
  • Price (after subsidies): from 69.800 to 79.800 yuan (8.544 to 9.768 euros)


2021 ORA R1 (Black Cat)

  • Length: 3.495 mm
  • Width: 1.660 mm
  • Height: 1.560 mm
  • Wheelbase: 2.475 mm
  • Weight: 977/990/1.000 kg
  • Range: 301/351/405 km (NEDC)
  • Battery: 28,5/33/37 kWh (SVOLT cells)
  • Motor: 35/45 kW and 125/130 N.m of torque
  • Maximum speed: 102 km/h
  • On-board charger: 6,6 kW
  • DC fast charging: 30-80 % in 30 minutes
  • Price (after subsidies): from 69.800 to 84.800 yuan (8.544 to 10.380 euros)


Now you’re probably thinking that this electric car is only affordable thanks to generous government subsidies, but if so, you’re wrong. Actually the subsidies from the Chinese government to buy electric cars have been dropping and are now quite low.

The standard range versions only get a subsidy of 16.200 yuan (1.983 euros) and the long range version gets a subsidy of 22.500 yuan (2.754 euros). This means that even before subsidies the long range version is very affordable at 107.300 yuan (13.134 euros).

In the table below provided by Moneyball you can see how subsidies to buy electric cars work in China. They depend on range and battery energy density.


Electric car subsidy in China depends on range and battery pack energy density – 2019 vs 2020


What really boosted electric car sales in China is the easy access they have to license plates. For example, cities like Beijing introduced a license plate lottery system in 2011, where buyers can wait more than 7 years to get one, but electric cars are exempt from this scheme. While in Shanghai buyers of a new car have to bid for a license plate through an online auction by the government and it can cost more than 10.000 euros, but license plates are free for electric cars.


ORA R2 (White Cat)

Recently ORA also introduced another affordable electric car, the R2 (White Cat) that looks like a smaller Kia e-Soul…



2021 ORA R2 (White Cat)

  • Length: 3.625 mm
  • Width: 1.660 mm
  • Height: 1.530 mm
  • Wheelbase: 2.490 mm
  • Weight: 10.010/1.032 kg
  • Range: 360/401 km (NEDC)
  • Battery: 34/38 kWh (SVOLT cells)
  • Motor: 35/45 kW and 125/130 N.m of torque
  • Maximum speed: 102 km/h
  • On-board charger: 6,6 kW is standard in long range versions and optional in standard range versions for 1.000 yuan (122 euros)
  • DC fast charging: 5-80 % in 40-45 minutes
  • Price (after subsidies): from 75.800 to 88.800 yuan (9.278 to 10.870 euros)


If we convert the 401 km (249 miles) NEDC range to the more realistic WLTP we get around 301 km (187 miles), not bad for an electric car with a 38 kWh battery that before government subsidies costs 111.300 yuan (13.623 euros).


Curiously BMW and GWM are partners and there are rumors that the ORA R2 might replace the BMW i3, or at least serve as base for a new generation. Moving some production to China (world’s biggest EV market) seems to be part of BMW’s strategy, for example the upcoming BMW iX3 will be made in China and sold both there and in Europe.


Anyway, I thought that in this article it was important to show you what this type of electric cars can cost without government subsidies.

Automakers that say they are losing money with their overpriced electric cars are lying to us again, just like big corporations always do when they don’t want society to tell them how to behave. After the diesel emissions scandal, only complete fools give them the benefit of the doubt.

Automakers don’t want to produce electric cars right now because they already invested high sums of money in production lines for ICE (Internal Combustion Engine) cars, that’s it. They’re milking the cow before it dies… even if it cost us the quality of our air or more wars and coups for oil they don’t care!

The good news is that ORA plans to bring its electric cars to Europe and it might happen sooner than later. Next year SVOLT starts producing its cobalt-free LNMO batteries and I hope that the electric cars exported to Europe from ORA already come with them.


I leave you with a nice video from Fully Charged about the ORA R1.



If you’re now furious with the prices of electric cars in Europe and North America grab your pitchfork and join me!



More info:





Pedro Lima

My interest in electric transportation is mostly political. I’m tired of coups and wars for oil. My expectation is that the adoption of electric transportation will be a factor for peace and democracy all over the world.

20 Responses

  1. Tyler says:

    Great article. Looking at the prices and specs their doesnt seem to be much of a reason to buy the Ora R1 over the Ora R2. Looking at pictures leaves me to believe the R2 has a more premium looking interior and exterior. Also the Ora ES11 was revealed at Chengdu(or spied). Interested in seeing specs of that and a article from you on it.

  2. Mattc says:

    We need those cars in Europe, asap. I am noto sure whether traditional car manufacturers could produce cheaper EVs but won’t not to kill ICEs, or what, but we need cheaper EVs. MG did a good job undercutting competition, but there is little affordable in the A and B segment.

  3. pc_liver says:

    Not only brands heavy invested in ICS, Tesla also is milking early customers.

  4. Buutvrij says:

    I want this R1/R2 to the EU NOW!! Perfect range/speed for my daily needs. My neighbour just bought a new VW diesel, but is suffering from vascular issues. Airquality in NL is not that good. How ironic.

  5. Famlin says:

    Nice compact city car to seat 4 passengers is ideal for every family. It sold 2.601 units in 2020-06 and 9.372 units in 2020-H1.

    Very affordable pricing before subsidies
    Ora-R1 (short range) : € 10.527
    Ora-R1 (long range) : € 13.134

    Ora-R2 (short range) : € 11.261
    Ora-R2 (long range) : € 13.624

    So 4 km of NEDC is 3 km of WLTP. Even at 301 km range, its good for many trips.
    On-board charger expands from 3,3 kW (6,6 kW optional) to 6,6 kW standard. Good improvement.

    Gradually these small cars with Lithium battery are slowly replacing the low speed EVs with Lead battery. Good for everyone.

  6. Famlin says:

    Last year until June, there was 3 levels of subsidies. 150 – 250 km, 251 – 400 km, >= 400 km, then it was cut to 2 levels with only 1/2 the subsidies. Few months ago, it was changed to 300 – 400 km with a ceiling on high price around $43.000.  

    Around 2021-01 timeline, they may scrap this base 300 – 400 km range and leave only >=400 km. So its time for their automakers to plan for this. 

    Best option is to make a smaller lighter vehicle, in most cases a 5 door small crossover type vehicle can offer most trunk capacity than longer wider sedan. So with a slightly larger battery, the vehicle could cover the 400 km range. After all BEVs offer a much smoother drive and dont need to be heavy like ICE to offer the smooth ride.

  7. Famlin says:

    Do they have R N D for Reverse Neutral Drive.
    Dont they have in Chinese script.
    Best thing is to have a
    Forward Arrow for Drive
    Middle circle for Neutral
    Backward Arrow for Reverse.
    That way it will be universal.

  8. Leo B says:

    //If you’re now furious with the prices of electric cars in Europe and North America grab your pitchfork and join me!//

    Pedro, this is what I wrote on a different blog, that was featuring Peugeot’s overpriced e-2008:

    I think Peugeot is the perfect example of what is wrong with the EV market in Europe, from a private buyer’s point of view.

    First of all, these cars are firmly targeted at the company car/lease market. Not a surprise, since it’s considerably larger than the private buyers market. For company cars the retail price is less important, because these cars are sold on TCO (total cost of ownership). The lease price may be higher than the equivalent ICE versions, but with many countries deploying BiK (benefit in kind) tax incentives, for the end user the BEV is comparable in price or often cheaper than the ICE.

    So with an attractive proposition in the company car market, private sales are just collateral benefit for Peugeot. There are in the position to control production numbers to what they need for complying with emission regulations and keep the retail price as high as possible at the same time. For years these companies have scared the general public with stories that BEV’s could not be made profitable, but at present they are probably the highest margin vehicles in their line-up.

    If Peugeot was the only company doing this, then competition would take care of it. But for instance Volkswagen recently released pricing of its ID.3 model and it seems to do the same. The base price of the mid-size battery version is around €36k, but this is a version without any equipment the car buyer is now used to. VW is nudging the ID.3 buyer to higher priced version: 5 of the 6 pre-configured version were well over €40k, which is €10k more expensive than the Golf. Again, they can do that because they are primarily focusing on the company car market.

    So for people who do not have access to a company car, there are basically three options:
    -Buy the BEV anyway and pay the outrageous premium the manufacturer is charging.
    -Do a private lease deal. This can be attractive, but only if your yearly mileage is limited. I did a calculation for my own use case and it came out just as expensive over 5 years as buying the car.
    -Buy second hand. This is what most people do, but there are very little used BEV’s available. There are some Leafs and Zoes, but a second hand Tesla (if you can find one) is still so expensive that you’re inclined to think ‘I better save a little longer and buy me a new one’.

    So at the current state of the market, with manufacturers tailoring BEV output to their emission compliance needs and governments handing out cash incentives (which help the manufacturers keeping the retail prices high), it’s not the quickest or most efficient way to force the transition to zere-emission transport. I can see no other option then applying severe limits on number of ICE vehicles that can be sold, either in absolute numbers or as quotum of sales, to bring down BEV prices and speed up this long overdue transition.

    • Pedro Lima says:

      Thanks for sharing your insights with us Leo.

    • Famlin says:

      Thanks Leo B for the explanation.
      In 1 word we can call this “manipulation”
      government and industry go hand in hand, guided by big oil. Thats why they kept selling diesel vehicles for so long.

      Someday, people will raise their voice and these automakers will start reducing the prices. So please wait until then.

      But I dont expect Tesla to reduce their prices. They want to have all their vehicles with 500 + km range and a pricing that is on par with the ICE models of luxury brands.

      • Leo B says:

        I don’t think it’s outright manipulation, I think many governments try to do the right thing, but they are using less productive policies. For a politician it’s of course so much easier to offer an incentive than to (partly) ban a very popular product. At least they are not offering incentives on diesel cars anymore.

        Of course the car industry is well connected with politics, but they lost a lot of bargaining space with their dieselgate antics.

        My government (the Dutch) has offered large incentives in the company car market and that worked very well. The Tesla Model 3 was last years best selling car in the Netherlands. Now they’re offering a small incentive for private buyers as well, but the budget is so small that it was depleted two weeks after announcing it. There was an added benefit though: both MG and Renault double the government incentive (€4.000) for now, so you can buy these cars at a €8.000 discount. It does show the large margin that these cars usually have.

        Personally, I’ve taken an interest in the Chinese car industry, trying to unravel their history and so. I think if some of the better established brands would sell their products in Europe, it might force the large legacy manufacturers to charge more reasonable prices.
        I don’t want the low end Chinese brands to come to Europe. Yes, some make dead cheap cars, but they will only reinforce the notion that anything coming from China is junk. However brands like Great Wall Ora do have a genuine potential. They make reasonably well built cars at very attractive price points. Imagine the R3/Good Cat model (the beige one) coming to Europe and selling over €10.000 below a Kona or ID.3, there’s definitely a public for that.

  9. Rodri says:

    At that price, I would buy the Ora R1/R2 over the Up/Mii/Citygo any day, let´s forget the overpriced-Twingo-tiny battery. The problem I see is the introduction of Chinese makers into the European market is going to be slow, complex, risky, expensive. European brands know that. So I think prices won´t go down in the near future. Government incentives (if available) and used market look the only rational option from a pure economic standpoint to go electric in the next 2-4? years to come.

    Yours furiously,

  10. Famlin says:

    In hybrids, plugins and electric vehicles, there is a button for park, but for neutral, we have to move the gear fob/stick/level.
    Its much easier to press the park button even if our vehicle is stopped for long time in railroad/railway crossing.

    I never used neutral at all. So technically the neutral can be removed in all electric vehicles and replaced with just park in the middle and forward arrow for drive in front of it and backward arrow for reverse in back of it. So less buttons, clutters.

  11. Stefan says:

    LOL is everyone forgetting about safety and crash tests? Let’s see those first, I don’t wanna die in a sandwich between two Ford Fiestas on european roads.

    • Pedro Lima says:

      Last year SKODA was selling the 5-door ICE Citigo in Czech Republic with a starting price of 8.120 euros (209.900 CZK). Cars that comply with EU safety regulations don’t have to be expensive.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *