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Wei Ma / World Champion EX5 (2018): Electric SUV for 15,000 euros

Gerd Stegmaier
Wei Ma /World Champion EX5 (2018)
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F founder Freeman Shen previously worked for the Chinese car company Geely. He became known in Europe primarily through the purchase of Volvo and recently launched a second brand in Europe with Lynk & Co. Buying Volvo was Shen's masterpiece. He then became Vice President of Volvo. In 2015 he started his own business to build cars himself. To this end, he mainly acquired money from Chinese investors and will soon end up beyond the 1.5 to two billion euros that can also be observed with competitors. As with its competitors, Shen was looking for an international team in his network to develop the design and technology and, of course, had a new factory built. The sticking point is likely to be the smooth start of production - the Chinese have to be better than, for example, Tesla, which showed the Model 3 at the fair, but could hardly deliver at the moment.

Electric SUV World Champion EX5 with a range of up to 460 kilometers

The first World Champion SUV is called the EX5 and is purely electric. It is available with three battery variants for ranges of 300, 400 or 460 kilometers. According to WM Motor, just under three quarters of an hour should be enough to charge the battery from 30 to 80 percent - at which charge current is unclear. The unspecified battery pack is now hidden in the vehicle floor between the axles (wheelbase: 2.70 meters).

The engine only drives the front wheels. It has an output of 160 kW (218 hp) and a maximum torque of 315 Nm. In the version with the largest battery, it should accelerate the SUV to 100 km /h in less than 8 seconds, with the smallest battery it should take 10 seconds despite the same performance.

The EX5 measures 4.58 x 1.83 x 1.67 meters, which is roughly between the VW Tiguan and Tiguan Allspace. Production started shortly before the start of the trade fair (Auto China in Beijing at the end of April 2018). The entry-level version has a 45 kWh battery and should only cost 15,000 euros in the basic configuration(including government funding). This makes it one of the cheapest SUVs on the market even in China and defines the framework that VW, for example, has to adhere to with the new joint venture E-SUV Sol E20X. The top version of the world champion SUV is called EX5 Pro. With extensive equipment and 60 kWh battery for the above A range of 460 kilometers should cost the equivalent of around 25,000 euros.

World championship cars are constantly online

Much more important, however, is that the world champion serves the Chinese's greed for digitized products and networking. Anyone walking the streets in Beijing rarely sees someone without a cell phone, even when they are behind the wheel of their cars, the Chinese have their smartphone in hand almost all the time, almost all communication takes place via the WhatsApp counterpart, WeChat, and most companies distribute their press releases with numerous images you can also pay with it (WeChat Pay). In addition, the claim from Weltmeister reads: “Always On” - online at all times.

Thanks to “artificial intelligence”, the EX5 is supposed to identify its driver using facial recognition. If several people share the car, each family member should, for example, have their own account - and the world champion already has the customer's data and can take them into their own ecosystem. The advantage of individual accounts for the customer: car keys do not have to be laboriously exchanged, the EX5 already knows the settings for seat, music, telephone or air conditioning when the driver gets in. The car stores the data in a cloud and is always online. Of course, the plan is also to serve the next megatrend: The EX5 should gradually be able to drive more and more autonomously - so that the Chinese can safely be 'always on' when shopping in traffic jam with centimeter precision in their congested cities.

No export for the time being

European car manufacturers have to take start-ups in China very seriously because of such concepts, because the attraction of digitization is huge. It is not for nothing that VW is promising extensive networking options and particularly fast internet access for the Sol E20X. Above all, however, the digital platforms provide excellent protection against foreign competition. Just think of Facebook. The social media platform has more than two billion users worldwide, but the number of Chinese users is likely to be limited to that of the state inspectors: Facebook is not accessible across the board in China.

An export of its world championship cars CEO Freeman Shen is currently not planning. “We are initially concentrating entirely on our home market of China. After all, we can only build a good 100,000 cars a year in our new factory, even when it is fully completed, ”he said on the sidelines of the presentation at Auto China.

In a second stepbut the German market in particular could be a target - given the name. Excluding the current stately subsidies for electric cars in China, an EX5 would cost more than 30,000 euros in this country. But by then it could also use the VW I.D. give - no SUV, but a German product with more power - and presumably separate accounts for the users: At VW they are called ID

How Wei Ma became world champion

Because the original company name Wei Ma (which means something like 'magnificent horse') has to be abbreviated to the 'World Cup' that is quite common in China, Freeman came along Shen came up with the idea of ​​calling his company 'World Champion'. The Chinese can pronounce that practically without 'r', are not wrong with 'Weltmaista' and it helps as an obviously German term. Because there is still a clear sequence in terms of the reputation of car manufacturers in China: European brands are the most popular, followed by imports from other countries and then Chinese brands.

German know-how in the Chinese start-up, that is also part of the pattern mentioned at the beginning: Byton, for example, has ex-BMW series manager Carsten Breitfeld as CEO, Aiways has Roland Gumpert set up a European second label, and Qoros also started with German management.

And Freeman Shen called on the expertise of the construction service provider Sinfonia Automotive - a company that emerged from the sports car manufacturer Isdera, which caused a sensation in the 80s with its own cars like the 'Commentadore'.

The new CEO Stefan Peters from Isdera /Sinfonia has lived in Shanghai for 15 years and has expanded customer acquisition to the dynamically growing Chinese market. For Wei Ma, aka WM aka World Champion, he and his team and partners from motorsport built an attention magnet, the “Commendatore GT”. The sports car naturally has an electric drive. Two electric motors, one on each axle, provide 816 hp and a grueling 1350 Nm. The 105 kWh battery is the highlight of the 2 + 2 seater: It weighs only 400 kilograms because its cells are packed in a bonded carbon structure so that each one can be individually surrounded by coolant. More about the electric sports car can be found here.

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