We recently travelled to China with Chery SA to take a closer look at new O&J EVs that will soon hit the local market.

Chery SA is on something of a charge. The Chinese automaker has been in SA, in an official capacity, for just about two years, but already ranks high on the monthly sales charts. In fact, in April 2024, the Chery Group registered its highest-ever sales figures in South Africa with 2 009 registrations. This placed it 6th on the overall manufacturer standings for the month and 4th in the passenger-vehicle segment.

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Part of the brand’s success has come from offering products at affordable prices. The other is an ever-expanding portfolio. The initial Chery offerings (Tiggo 4, 7 and 8) have been bolstered by two sub-brands that have been introduced into the local space. O&J (Omoda and Jaecoo) are partitioned in the Chery family but also offer SUV and crossover products.

Omoda E5

Omoda has been in SA for just over a year. The brand has just one model, called the C5, with a few derivatives on offer. The range will grow later this year in the form of a C5-based EV called the E5. The battery powered version can be differentiated by a unique appearance. Among others, it has a restyled visage and aero-optimised wheels.

Hidden under that smoother body shape is an electric motor that produces 150 kW and 340 N.m of torque. A 61 kWh battery pack can provide up to 430 km of range. There are other battery capacities, but the info regarding local specification was undecided at the time of writing.

E5 can be charged using a fast charger which takes the battery from 30 to 80 per cent in about 30 minutes. More interestingly for locals is that the E5 features Vehicle to Load (V2L). This means that the car’s battery pack can be used to power certain smaller appliances – cool!

Jaecoo J6

Another model that will makes its way to SA is the Jaecoo J6. The Jaecoo J6 is also battery powered. At the events held by Chery near its hometown of Wuhu we got up close with the J6 and it left a pretty positive impression. This little EV crossover seemed to be a massive hit with onlookers. Its styling was the major talking point. The boxy lines and high-up stance placing it amongst the likes of the Suzuki Jimny and GM Hummer from an aesthetic point of view.

A similar sentiment seemed to be carried over to impressions of the interior. A minimalist layout with a massive digital infotainment screen and small instrument cluster feel quite premium and up-market. More than once did we hear the name ‘Range Rover’ used to describe the look and feel of the J6’s interior.

In China the J6 is sold under another Chery Automobile sub-brand called iCar. In iCar form there is a single motor version that offers 135 kW of power and 184 N.m of torque. The motor drives the rear wheels only. A dual-motor derivative has 205 kW with 279 N.m of twist action. In this case the J6 is all-wheel drive. J6 derivatives offer between 401 and 501 km based on powertrain and battery pack combination.

Intro Dates

We can expect the Omoda E5 to go on sale locally before the year ends. The Jaecoo J6 will, more than likely, be here in the early part of 2025. The big question, of course, will be that of pricing. EVs on sale locally do not enjoy massive sales success.

Adoption of the tech has been stymied by a small, but growing, EV charging network. And, of course, our ‘interrupted power supply’ viz load shedding. Although, at the time of writing we’ve experienced over 50 days of perfect power supply. The acceptance of the new O&J EVs may be slightly better than other brands, provided O&J SA can get the pricing spot on. Unfortunately, for now, that question cannot be answered.