A new car brand says it could be selling 'affordable' (if weird-looking) electric cars, motorbikes, and 1-ton trucks in SA next year

Business Insider SA
  • NeuWai, a newly-created brand from South Korea's Songuo Motors, plans to start making a new generation of affordable electric vehicles soon.
  • And it does mean a full range of vehicles: cars, motorbikes, scooters, 1-ton trucks, and something close to a bakkie.
  • At least some of those vehicles should be selling in South Africa by next year, NeuWai says.

A newly-launched car brand says it expects some of its range of electric vehicles to be sold in South Africa as early as next year.

NeuWai, a brand launched by the South Korean company Songuo, has promised "fun-to-drive vehicles" that "make people happy". 

Its planned range includes compact cars, a one-ton truck, a SUV, a multi-purpose bakkie-like vehicle, and several types of motorcycles and scooters.

The company said it would only be able to talk about pricing closer to its production launch – but said its business model promises prices that will be "very competitive". 

Soon after the brand's launch at the 2019 Seoul Motor Show, Songuo announced it had signed distribution deals with companies in 30 countries, including South Africa.

See also: You can soon buy a Tesla in South Africa - here's everything you need to know, including prices and specs

JSE-listed financial services group Ecsponent is the South African partner.

Exactly which of the NeuWai vehicles end up available in SA will depend on testing that can only start once prototypes are available, Ecsponent CEO Terence Gregory told Business Insider South Africa. But the company has high hopes for motorbikes and smaller vehicles.

Until it is has tested actual vehicles, Ecsponent will not be putting significant money into the NeuWai project, Gregory said. If all does go well, it will most likely seek out a motor distributor with an existing footprint in South Africa to partner with in turn, while Ecsponent looks at the financial side of the business – and maybe selling new cars to South Africans who would normally not be able to buy them.

"From a financial-inclusion perspective, we are used to dealing with unbankable individuals," Gregory said.   

Songuo plans to make the parts for its vehicles at a huge primary factory in Dezhou, China. The components will then be shipped to assembly plants around the world for final assembly. 

The company says each of those assembly plants should cost less than R400 million to set up, a considerable saving over traditional assembly plants.

The primary factory in China is "almost complete", Songuo said this week, but despite not yet having an operational manufacturing plant it intends to have all its models in production within 18 months.

Songuo says a major innovation is its use of moulded composite body panels that are made already coloured, saving on the cost and hassle of painting body parts in an assembly plant.

Its passenger vehicles, across the S-range (in a two-door and four-door) and the Q bakkie hybrid, will all come with a top speed of 80 km/h, and an estimated battery range of 60 kilometres, NeuWai says.

But the Q-Series SUV is supposed to offer a maximum speed of 120 kilometres per hour.

These are some of the vehicles NeuWai plans to make.

The Series-S compact car

The Series-Q bakkie/'extra capacity vehicle'

The Series-T 1-ton truck

The Series-U SUV

For more, go to Business Insider South Africa.

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